The Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Health Organization (WHO) signed on Monday a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) committing to strengthening their collaboration on a broad range of public health issues of particular concern to Commonwealth member states and governments, such as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine equity, advancing universal health coverage, and building resilient health systems.
The MoU was signed at a ceremony held at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, and the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros.
The Commonwealth Secretariat plays an important role in fostering and supporting greater cohesion among member states and governments across a range of policy areas and programs. In signing the document, the two parties agreed to work together and strengthen the exchange of information on seven priority areas:
• Promoting universal health coverage and primary healthcare
• Strengthening global health security
• Promoting healthy environments
• Promoting the health of vulnerable groups
• Transforming lifelong learning for health impact
• Building a data partnership
• Creating space for innovation and exchange of knowledge
This collaboration underscores the Commonwealth Secretariat’s and WHO’s longstanding commitment to ensuring equitable access to quality health services and promoting the health and wellbeing of all people.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC said:
“Equitable access to vaccines is the world’s most pressing political, economic, social and moral priority. Without effective and prompt action on vaccines, we face a never-ending global health crisis that will reduce all of our wealth and security.
“And the most effective way for the world to tackle this and other challenges that we face, whether COVID-19, climate change or universal health coverage, is by working through multilateral institutions such as the Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Health Organization.
“The Memorandum of Understanding we have signed today demonstrates that both organizations share a vision for cooperation and action on these challenges, and a commitment to creating the conditions for people across the Commonwealth to flourish. It is a pleasure to work with colleagues from the World Health Organization and I hope this agreement will enable us to work more effectively and productively far into the future.”
Dr Tedros said: “Partnership is essential in ensuring all people can achieve the highest level of health possible. The new agreement between the World Health Organization and the Commonwealth Secretariat reflects the importance of collaboration to promote and protect people’s wellbeing. WHO’s commitment to supporting all Commonwealth countries will be strengthened through our commitment to promoting universal health coverage, global health security and ensuring vulnerable groups receive all support needed to lead healthy lives.”
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