Tal på engelska av Maria Larsson vid World Health Assembly

Mr vice President, Director General, Ministers and honourable delegates,

I am glad that the MDGs are on top of the agenda today. Sweden fully supports the EU statement made on this matter. Let me start by thanking WHO and Margret Chan for her strong leadership during the fight against the H1N1 pandemic, an issue that dominated the health agenda in 2009. As this is the first real test of the International Health Regulation (IHR) I look forward to the results from the ongoing review process.

I fully agree with what Dr Margaret Chan said in the opening speech today, we need to seek lessons about how the IHR has functioned, about how WHO and the international community responded to the pandemic. We need to learn lessons, what worked well and what can be done better. Independent, open and transparent processes are fundamental.

On another note - we have for quite some time been facing another major challenge, the rapid increase of antimicrobial resistance. In the autumn of 2009 Sweden held the Presidency of the European Union, and it became clear that all Member States, through Council conclusions, was committed to work on the issue nationally.

But the member states also want to bring forward an action plan on how to counteract the problem. However, this should not be an EU internal issue , but a global one. We can note that there is an increasing awareness about this major health threat, but far from enough action. The leadership of WHO is urgently needed in this area. There is a strong need to limit the excess use of antibiotics both by more restrictive use of our health and medical services, and more effective regulations on marketing and sales.

At the same time there are a number of regions in the world that have no access at all to effective antibiotics, and we also need to speed up the development of new medicines with the capacity to replace the antibiotics that no longer are working. In November 2009 the EU and the US decided to join forces and establish a task force on antimicrobal resistance. The matter at hand is so urgent that I encourage all member states to do their outmost to reduce the resistance. And at the same time I urge WHO to commit to this matter in accordance with the resolution from 2005. And report its work to the assembly, preferably next year.

Let me then move to the matter of the future financing of WHO. Many of us are deeply concerned with the current financial situation. It is problematic that the governing bodies only have a direct influence over about 20 per cent of the total budget. Over the past decade and longer we have discussed how to come to grip with this situation. At the same time the proportion of earmarked funding has continued to expand. The situation is not sustainable.

We are now living with a situation where decisions by WHA can be implemented only partially, and sometimes not at all within a reasonable time. Therefore, my government warmly welcomes the initiative by the Director-General on innovative financing mechanisms. We are prepared to actively engage in your efforts.

I want to conclude with some words about the Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. We have been through a lengthy, and sometimes difficult process. I am very pleased that we hopingly now finally have reached the point for the adoption. The outcome of the broad consultations has lead to a draft strategy that is both well balanced and based on best available evidence and practise.

It is well adapted to the various resources, contexts and circumstances at hand in different Member States.
An excellent WHO report is recently published called "Global health risks". It confirms the great impact of the harmful use of alcohol, and the impact especially on our children and on families.The report contains an update of the global burden of disease where alcohol ranks number three as a risk factor - closely behind underweight and unsafe sex.

So, arguments strongly support the urgent need for us all to agree on and support the implementation of this strategy. I want to thank all Member States who have jointly and actively embarked on this effort.I am convinced that the Global strategy on harmful use of alcohol has the potential to become a landmark in combating alcohol-related health and social harms.

And I would like to urge all of us to support WHO:s future work.

Thank you!


Niclas Thorselius
Pressekreterare hos Maria Larsson