The World Health Organisation held a commemorative lunch event today (6 April 2018) at the UN, bringing together Member States and partners to celebrate WHO’s 70th birthday and to discuss actions and commitments that are needed at the political level to help shape health systems of the future so that no one is left behind.
Ambassador Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN was invited to make congratulatory remarks at the event, along with a few other select Permanent Representatives. Meanwhile, Dr. Tedros, Director General of the World Health Organization is currently in Sri Lanka celebrating World Health day which falls on 7th April 2018.
In his remarks, Ambassador Perera said that it is significant that both WHO and Sri Lanka count 2018 as an important land mark. On 4 February 1948 – Seventy Years ago - Sri Lanka gained independence from colonial rule. Just over two months later on 7 April 1948, the WHO Constitution came into force. “As WHO celebrates seventy years of tremendous service to the world, we congratulate your extraordinary efforts to address the health and wellbeing of humanity,” he said.
Ambassador Perera also noted that Sri Lanka is considered by most experts as a low cost, high impact, model of health care in South East Asia and the world. “The World Health Organization has collaborated with Sri Lanka over several decades to uplift our health sector. In fact in 2016 WHO certified Sri Lanka as a malaria-free nation, in what it called a truly remarkable achievement. We achieved this through an aggressive and innovative anti-malaria campaign and by investing in health education and effective surveillance,” he further stated.
Dr. Perera also said that Sri Lanka has a long history of providing free universal healthcare and free universal education for all its citizens.
The WHO 70th anniversary celebrations centered on Universal Health coverage which UN Member States have agreed to provide globally by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. According to WHO, at least half of the world’s population does not have full coverage of essential health services and about 100 million people are still being pushed into extreme poverty, because they have to pay for health care. The occasion also featured the launch of commemorative UN World Health Day stamps. (ENDS)