The UAE has played a pivotal role in facilitating global aid to earthquake-hit Syria and Turkey, and the natural disaster has served as a reminder for governments to enhance emergency response efforts, according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), at the World Government Summit 2023.
During his virtual address, Ghebreyesus said the UAE had been a key humanitarian hub for WHO’s aid efforts in Syria and Turkey. These countries have been hit by two devastating earthquakes that have killed over 35,000 people. “Our logistics hub in Dubai has dispatched three flights with medical supplies and surgical trauma kits to both countries,” Ghebreyesus said.
According to him, the UAE’s hub plays a critical role in WHO’s emergency preparedness response and resilience work around the globe. Ghebreyesus said WHO delivered essential health supplies to 90 countries from Dubai last year, and the Dubai hub has grown tenfold since 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown serious gaps between nations and a lack of a globally coordinated response to emergencies. He urged governments to learn from it.
“Unfortunately, this won’t be the last pandemic or the last large-scale health emergency. Climate change is another threat that will continue to increase in frequency and intensity,” said the WHO chief. We owe it to those who have lost their lives, as well as those who will follow us, to learn from this pandemic. We need to make the necessary changes to keep the world safe.
Despite slow progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Ghebreyesus urged governments to take action faster. Using initiatives such as the Government Accelerators Programme, which delivers “faster impact through collaboration and innovation,” he praised the UAE’s partnership and leadership in tackling numerous serious threats.
In his address, the WHO chief expressed hope that COP28‘s hosting by the UAE would influence further global health discussions. During his virtual address to WGS attendees, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, stressed the importance of international cooperation. “There is conflict, hunger, poverty, and division, and the climate emergency continues to worsen,” Guterres said.
A significant challenge facing nations today is climate change, food and energy insecurity, and he warned governments against short-term policymaking that delays tackling them. Ultimately, it makes these challenges more difficult to solve, he said. The private sector, non-governmental organizations, and international society must support governments to bring about real change at “the speed and scale our fast-moving world requires.” “We must work together for the greater good,” Guterres added.
More than 220 panel discussions will be held at WGS 2023, bringing 300 heads of state, ministers, and government officials together to discuss pressing issues. Over 22 international forums examine the most prominent future trends. There will be interactive dialogues and sessions on six main themes, including: Future Societies and Healthcare, Economic Resilience and Connectivity, Prioritizing Education and Work, Accelerating Growth and Governance, Exploring the Frontiers, and Sustainable Global Cities.