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Minister Poklukar: "The current crises should serve as a warning"

Minister of Health Janez Poklukar addressed delegates at the 75th World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO). The Assembly is being held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 22–28 May 2022. The theme of this year’s Health Assembly is ‘Health for peace, peace for health.’

Minister Janez Poklukar addressing the 75th General Assembly of the World Health Organisation.

Minister Janez Poklukar addressing the 75th General Assembly of the World Health Organisation. | Author Ministrstvo za zdravje

Minister of Health Janez Poklukar was the third senior Member State representative to address delegates at a plenary session. He opened his address by stating that based on past experience we are all striving to eliminate the shortcomings of our healthcare systems that were exposed by the pandemic. These efforts, however, have now been overshadowed by a new extraordinary crisis situation that has emerged in Europe. Minister Poklukar stressed that any loss of human life is regrettable, but when losses are associated with the destruction of civil infrastructure, including our healthcare infrastructure, they are also incomprehensibly tragic.

The minister emphasised that peace is the basis of health and well-being. We cannot completely recover from the pandemic and also reach the most vulnerable groups if the world constantly faces conflicts and use of weapons. We cannot achieve our healthcare objectives if our common values, such as solidarity and the provision of healthcare services for all, are infringed upon.

Without uniform and concerted action by all global stakeholders we also cannot focus effectively on addressing climate change, which already has and will continue to have a major impact on our health.

Current crises should serve as a warning. Health ministers and the entire health community are required to issue timely warnings on everything that could potentially harm the health of our populations and come together to take action, as health in the global sense is a condition for peace, and peace a condition for health.

Today, Slovenia also organised a secondary event alongside this assembly to support the adoption of the WHO’s action plan to implement a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, which had already been adopted in 2010. The situation in this area deteriorated during the pandemic, meaning that more attention should be devoted to this issue in healthcare and society in general in the future.

The minister also met with a few other delegations, namely with French, German, Estonian, Swedish, and Portuguese delegates, with whom he discussed a number of health priorities, even addressing the drafting of a strategy to control antimicrobial resistance and the recent outbreak of monkeypox. Tomorrow, the minister will also meet with the WHO’s Regional Director for Europe. They will discuss the current challenges we all face in terms of health and healthcare systems in Europe.