Nima Wangdi 

In the last two years, the pandemic challenged the resilience of health care systems, reminding the nations of the need for achieving the right balance between protecting lives and livelihoods.

“As we cautiously move forward, we need to focus on two key considerations to build back a resilient and sustainable health system,” said Health Minister and the outgoing President of World Health Assembly (WHA), Dechen Wangmo, at the ongoing 75th WHA in Geneva, Switzerland.

She said, firstly, there is an urgent need for building competence and capacity of the health workforce, especially in low- and middle-income countries. “This is because the health workforce is the foundational building block and cornerstone for achieving universal health coverage … there is also a need to create an enabling environment for them to thrive and grow.”

Lyonpo said that, secondly, it is of utmost importance to ensure equitable global distribution of life-saving products. She cited an example of the Covid-19 vaccine. “Although the vaccines were manufactured, many low- and middle-income countries did not have equal access to the vaccine.”

She said that the pandemic prompted so many restrictions and offered numerous social, political and economic uncertainties. “Yet, World Health Organisation (WHO) provided technical leadership and support to the member states,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said that the member countries were confident that the lessons learned from the pandemic would enable strengthen global and regional health architectures which would help them respond more efficiently and effectively to the future public health emergencies.

“Bhutan affirms its commitment to work collectively under the overall technical stewardship of WHO for the overall benefit and well-being of humankind,” She said.

Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the pandemic has turned the world upside down and many lives were lost. “Health systems have been strained to the breaking point.”

He added that health workers have worked under extreme circumstances and some paid the ultimate price. “We have faced the most severe health crisis in the century.”

According to the WHO, more than six million Covid-19 deaths have been reported to the WHO. WHO’s estimate is more than 15M.

This has dropped significantly since the emergence of Omicron wave last January.

WHO has already vaccinated about 60 percent of the world’s population.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo handed over the chairmanship to Dr Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh, health Minister of Djibouti. She will also meet with the global  Covid-19 and monkeypox experts on the sidelines.