In a full day of meetings on 20 November, WHO leaders and a Canadian government delegation reflected on their decades-long cooperation and sought to sharpen their strategic engagement on shared global health priorities, notably, health-systems strengthening, universal health coverage, embedding gender equality, equity and rights across WHO’s programmes, sustainable financing, health emergencies and pandemic preparedness.
The delegation was led by Mr Jean-Bernard Parenteau, Director General, Health and Nutrition Bureau of Global Affairs Canada and Patricia McCullagh, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in Geneva.
WHO representatives from across the Organization gave presentations on health emergencies, sexual and reproductive health and research; gender, equity and rights; primary health care as a foundation for universal health coverage; vaccine manufacturing; the International Health Regulations; and the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, which is drafting a pandemic treaty for consideration by the World Health Assembly next May.
Canada is currently the eighth largest contributor to WHO, and the fifth largest Member State contributor. For the 2022-23 biennium, Canada has contributed nearly US$ 175 million.
“Canada remains committed to the WHO as the centre of the global health ecosystem and deeply appreciates its pivotal role in helping the world prevent, prepare for, and respond to health emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Parenteau said. “As we renew our focus on primary health care and equitable and resilient health systems, we must take a gender-responsive, human rights and equity-based approach, including to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. We welcome WHO’s leadership in these areas, and to continued collaboration.”
WHO Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director Dr Mike Ryan commended Canada for its support for WHO, and to emergencies in particular. Canada is the fourth-largest contributor to WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies, having provided US$ 8.3 million since 2015.
He said one of the vulnerabilities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic was the lack of access to life-saving medical countermeasures faced by many countries, and that collaboration with Canada and other global health leaders on timely and equitable access to medical countermeasures against pandemic threats is critical.
“We look forward to continuing this crucial dialogue with Canada, committing to equity and solidarity,” Dr Ryan said. “Together, we can ensure that no one is left behind when the next pandemic strikes.”
The delegation also met with Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage, Life Course, who expressed WHO’s appreciation for Canada’s active, constructive participation in the ongoing development of WHO’s 14th General Programme of Work. He recognized the country’s support for strengthening universal health care, maternal and child health, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as Canada’s important role in the Universal Health Coverage Partnership.
Patricia McCullagh, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in Geneva and Jean-Bernard Parenteau, Director General, Health and Nutrition Bureau of Global Affairs Canada, led a delegation to WHO headquarters on 20 November. ©WHO/Bernard Dizier