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Secretary-General, in High-Level Healthy Future Event, Urges Continued Work with Ebola-Affected Countries, Predictable Support for Health Systems

United Nations
September 26, 2015

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Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the high-level event, Securing a Healthy Future: Resilient Health Systems to Fight Epidemics and Ensure Healthy Lives, in New York today:

Exactly one year ago, more than 500 people were being newly diagnosed with Ebola each week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Today, Liberia has been declared free of Ebola transmission. New Ebola cases have declined dramatically in Guinea and Sierra Leone as a result of decisive leadership and concerted action by national actors, with the support of regional and international partners.

These developments give us hope for the future, but we know we must remain vigilant and ready to respond to renewed outbreaks. We must continue to work in solidarity with Ebola-affected countries during their recovery, as we have done during the Ebola response. And we must do better when the next health crisis emerges.

I am grateful for the extraordinary support for the establishment of a High-Level Panel to examine the global response to health crises by the leaders here today. I appointed this Panel in April and have been impressed with the urgency and seriousness with which it has worked. I look forward to its report at the end of this year.

Human security depends on health security. We know the coming years will see unexpected new disease outbreaks. That is certain. We just do not know where, when and how they will strike.

Societies that proactively address these challenges, and engage with their health systems in the response, are at the heart of secure nations and a safer world. This requires predictable funding for accessible and effective health systems, and predictable support when a health emergency is suspected.

I am pleased by a number of regional and global initiatives to strengthen health systems. In June, G-7 [Group of Seven] leaders pledged to strengthen health systems and assist at least 60 countries with implementing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations. I welcome the initiative to develop a road map for health system strengthening with clear thematic priorities. I also look forward to the outcomes of the G-7 Health Ministers Meeting in October.

The work of the World Bank, under the leadership of President Jim Yong Kim, has been pivotal throughout — including its efforts to develop a new Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility. In July, African Union health ministers adopted the Statute of the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also essential that the World Health Organization has the authority, resources and capacity to provide global leadership in times of health crises. I thank Dr. Margaret Chan for her critical efforts to reform WHO.

The launch of the Sustainable Development Goals is a timely reminder of the critical need to build strong basic health systems and community resilience. Success depends on being able to anticipate these outbreaks, to react quickly, to curtail its spread and to prevent suffering. I am confident that with the leadership here today — and the various initiatives discussed — we will have the imagination — and the political will — to build a truly transformative and lasting global architecture for a healthy future.

Thank you.