May 23, 2018
Readout of Secretary Azar’s Second Day of Participation at the 2018 World Health Assembly
Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar began his second day of participation at the 71st World Health Assembly (WHA) by meeting with members of the United States delegation. The Secretary thanked those representing the United States at the WHA for the work they do to support and protect the public health of the American people. He emphasized how building strong partnerships with other nations is a critical part of preparedness for public health threats.
Secretary Azar then joined the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a meeting of the WHO leadership to discuss the need for continued reform at the WHO to enhance global health security capacity while supporting existing efforts underway by the organization to combat threats to the public health – particularly the current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Secretary then visited the WHO Strategic Health Operations Centre (SHOC) where he received a briefing on the current status of the Ebola outbreak in the DRC and coordinated efforts underway – including surveillance, testing, communication, and vaccination – to assess and respond to conditions on the ground.
In remarks at an event organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Medical Association, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, Secretary Azar utilized the historical example of the 1918 influenza pandemic to reiterate the importance of building robust preparedness measures. He noted that as a global community, gaps remain in our ability to prevent, detect, respond to, mitigate, and control infectious disease threats.
As part of an ongoing effort to highlight the benefit of public-private partnerships in addressing public health challenges and to encourage WHO to further engage with the private sector, Secretary Azar delivered remarks at a roundtable hosted by the Business Council for International Understanding, the Harvard Global Health Institute, and the Global Health Council. During his opening remarks, the Secretary noted that the private sector has a vested interest and critical role to play in addressing both communicable and noncommunicable diseases because no one benefits from an unhealthy workforce. He further communicated how private sector innovation and expertise can be helpful, particularly in standing up healthcare infrastructure and combating antimicrobial resistance.
Throughout the day, Secretary Azar participated in bilateral meetings with public health officials from Canada, Argentina, India, and Rwanda. In addition to strengthening relationships in support of improved global health security, discussions included other key priorities like opioid abuse and addiction, challenges in healthcare delivery, and prescription drug pricing.