Press Releases

    24 May 2005

    World Health Assembly’s Revised Regulations “Bold and Necessary Step” to Protect Global Public Health Says, Secretary-General

    NEW YORK, 23 May (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

    The Secretary-General welcomes the decision of the World Health Assembly to adopt the International Health Regulations 2005, a measure that is among the recommendations in the Secretary-General's recent report, In Larger Freedom.

    This decision marks a watershed for global public health and will help the World Health Organization to further advance its mandate -- the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health -- amid the challenges of the new millennium.

    Few challenges reflect the increasing interdependence among all States -- rich and poor, weak and strong -- so vividly as the spread of infectious disease. Our experience with SARS, avian influenza and the Marburg virus leave no doubt as to how rapidly infectious disease can traverse borders, oceans and continents, and compromise rudimentary and modern health systems alike.

    In adopting the revised regulations, the Assembly has taken a bold and necessary step towards enhancing international cooperation in promoting and protecting global public health from all disease risks, irrespective of origin or source.  It has also demonstrated that our multilateral institutions are fully capable of adapting to new threats and challenges.

    Recognizing that successful implementation of the regulations will require States to develop effective national capacity, the Secretary-General reiterates the call in his recent report for all Governments to devote greater attention and resources to building public health infrastructure, and for donors to assist developing countries in doing so.

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