May 22, 2018
Readout of Secretary Azar’s First Day of Participation at the 2018 World Health Assembly
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar began his participation at the World Health Assembly (WHA) as head of the United States delegation by delivering remarks during a plenary session of the WHA. Speaking to representatives of the Member States, Secretary Azar laid out key priorities for the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO) and challenged the WHO to keep its focus on its primary mission of preventing, detecting, and responding to public health emergencies. The Secretary’s remarks included:
- An announcement of up to $7 million in additional assistance to go towards the response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo – making the total U.S. commitment up to $8 million;
- A recognition that it is disappointing and inappropriate that Taiwan was not invited to observe the WHA; and
- A focus on the importance of private-sector engagement and innovation, particularly when it comes to access to medications.
Secretary Azar highlighted the Trump Administration’s efforts to reduce drug prices for patients of the United States while ensuring other countries contribute their fair share to pharmaceutical innovation.
The Secretary’s full remarks are available here: https://www.hhs.gov/about/leadership/secretary/speeches/2018-speeches/hhs-secretary-alex-azar-world-health-assembly-plenary-remarks.html.
After the speech, Secretary Azar participated in an event to champion the creation of a global research and development hub focused on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). During his remarks, the Secretary noted the strong U.S. commitment made through HHS agencies to address this challenge, and announced that CARB-X – a public-private partnership to address AMR – now included the support of the United Kingdom and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Later in the day, at an event sponsored by the United States government, Secretary Azar joined several nations in remembering the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic and recommended the need for a frank discussion and close collaboration to ensure the world is better prepared to protect against a potential pandemic flu.
Throughout the day, Secretary Azar spoke with representatives from multiple nations participating in the WHA and held meetings with health ministers and officials from the Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia. Discussions covered a range of global health issues, and the Secretary expressed the commitment of the United States under the Trump Administration toward strengthening global health security efforts.