Speech for the Honourable Jean‑Yves Duclos, Minister of Health Canada, P.C., M.P. - May 23, 2022


World Health Assembly Palais des Nations Geneva, Switzerland - May 23, 2022

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Distinguished members of this assembly,

Today, this is the first in-person meeting here at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, since the start of the pandemic.

This proves that we have come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, our fight is not over.

Because this pandemic is not over.

In too many places around the world, COVID-19 continues to claim lives that could otherwise be saved.

Collectively, we need to muster the necessary means to continue the fight and adequately prepare the world for whatever may come next, as the emerging monkeypox outbreaks remind us all.

Canada will continue to support equitable access to vaccines through COVAX and vaccine production and deployment everywhere.

We need to learn from the current pandemic.

The health, economic and social costs of not being adequately prepared are catastrophic.

That's why Canada supports the idea of a new multilateral instrument to ensure better preparedness.

This is also precisely why institutions like the WHO are so important.

The WHO has played a key role in international health cooperation since its creation and, even more so, since the beginning of this pandemic.

Canada believes that the WHO must be able to continue in this role.

As we enter the third year of this pandemic, it is clearer than ever: the world needs a strong WHO.

Like all multilateral institutions, a strong WHO needs to be sustainably financed, transparent, and accountable.

A strong WHO must also be inclusive and reflective of the entire global health community, which means supporting Taiwan's participation as an observer at the W.H.A.

Allow me to conclude with a few words on the theme of this year's plenary: Peace for Health, Health for Peace.

There cannot be health without peace.

The pandemic, climate change and ongoing armed conflicts around the world are adding to the numerous challenges the health care community is facing.

In the light of this, we need to be united in our unequivocal condemnation of all wars, including Putin's unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, and we need to be firm in our condemnation of any and all attacks targeting health workers, health care supplies, and health facilities.

We must continue to protect and promote the principles of equity and universality of access to health care for every human being on Earth.

We must also recognize that basic health care services should include sexual and reproductive health care.

Sexual and reproductive health rights are human rights, period.

And they should be considered as such.

It's a matter of dignity and humanity.

Distinguished members, I thank you for your time.

Thank you.

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