Statement by Ms Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen
Minister of Health and Care Services
World Health Assembly 65
First of all, I would like to congratulate Dr. Chan, with the nomination as Director-General of WHO for a second term. Strong leadership is needed more than ever to defend the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of health.
Universal health coverage is all about basic services one can offer at the national level. It starts with providing primary health care to all. A universal health coverage scheme must be based on the principle of solidarity and collective responsibility. Everyone, both poor and rich should contribute directly through taxes according to their ability to pay.
Although many countries are currently going through an economic crisis, it is still important to maintain investment in health in order to build robust health systems.
The Norwegian well-fare society, including universal health coverage, was built on revenues from income taxes long before the discovery of oil and gas resources. The establishment of our universal health coverage system was a result of political will, not because of wealth.
The spread of non-communicable diseases is a common concern. Prevention of NCDs will contribute to economic growth and reduce social inequalities in health within and between countries. With national governments in the lead, cross-sector action involving urban planning, finance, industry, trade, education, culture and agriculture is needed in order to respond effectively.
Even though the damaging effects from tobacco-use have been scientifically proven, we are facing an ever more aggressive tobacco industry. Aggressive in terms of finding new markets, new ways of marketing and new products designed to attract specific population groups.
Tobacco industry has recently taken legal action against a number of Parties, including Norway, just for implementing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. There is no reason to believe that industry will stop their attempts to keep Parties from implementing the Framework Convention (FCTC). Norway will fight with determination the industry intimidation as we fulfill our legal obligation to protect public health and implement efficient tobacco control measures.
I have one more objective of major concern, namely: the uncontrolled increase in resistance to antibiotics.
10-15 year ahead the world may be without antibiotics to treat major diseases. We need new antibiotics, but more prudent use of existing antibiotics is vital. Simple hygiene measures such as hand washing can be implemented everywhere. Multiresistant Tuberculosis is the extreme example of the problems we will be fronting if we do not take action now.
To me, universal access, comprehensive work against NCDs and strengthened efforts against antibiotic resistance seem to be the major challenges we are now facing.
Thank you Mr President