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Intervention by Estonia at the WHO EBSS 4 on the Draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work 2019-2023 under agenda item 3.2


WHO EBSS 4 on the draft 13th General Programme of Work


Intervention by ESTONIA


Agenda item 3.2: Strategic Priorities

Geneva, 22 November 2017


Honorable Chairperson,

Estonia aligns itself with the statement made by Malta on behalf of the EU and its Member States, as well as with the Nordic Baltic 8 statement delivered by Sweden. As this is the first time we are taking the floor, please allow us to congratulate everyone involved in the creation of this very promising Draft Global Programme of Work. At its forefront is the need to strengthen health systems to progress towards universal health coverage, and this focus, aligned with both the SDGs and the Tallinn Charter, is something that Estonia warmly welcomes.

Focus is key to making the Global Programme of Work successful. Estonia has great faith in WHO, but we also acknowledge that there is only so much that WHO can do. It is for this reason that the organization must determine where it needs to take action, and where it would be preferable to give way to others, so that it may better serve those who need it the most.

One area where WHO clearly does need to take action is non-communicable diseases, so that it may ensure healthy lives and well-being for all. Although NCDs claim 70% of all deaths per annum, this is an area, which has been critically underfunded in WHO, despite the organization’s clear comparative advantage on the issue. We agree with you, Director-General, that a paradigm shift is needed and that the current momentum created in Montevideo must not be wasted. We are therefore pleased to see the inclusion of this vital field as a flagship initiative. Successful undertakings, such as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), have shown that WHO has the will and the expertise to be the global leader on NCDs. Indeed, thanks to the work of WHO and its members, great strides have been made on tobacco control. As we focus   and considerably step up our efforts, we expect to see similar results on other NCD risk factors. Particularly, containing the harmful use of alcohol, which is one of the leading behavioral contributors to the global disease burden, is an area that has been lagging behind. Currently, despite the adoption of a global strategy in 2010, alcohol consumption and its related harms are, if anything, growing. We are confident, however, that by keeping the focus on NCDs, including mental health, and allotting it the attention it rightfully deserves, we can turn the tide on this escalating problem.

Thank you.


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