This year’s World Health Assembly is taking place under special circumstances; due to the COVID-19 pandemic it is a virtual event with a reduced agenda. President Simonetta Sommaruga represented Switzerland at the World Health Organization conference on Monday, 18 May. Ms Sommaruga commended the work of the Geneva-based organisation and gave an assurance of Switzerland’s support.
President Sommaruga explained that the WHO, which is currently dependent on voluntary contributions for 80 per cent of its budget, requires sustainable funding in order to be able to fulfil its important role and added: "Let us ask ourselves, is it fair to expect so much from the WHO while funding it such an arbitrary manner?"
Multilateralism, solidarity and international cooperation form the basis of Switzerland’s activities and are vital in the current situation, said President Sommaruga. A strong, efficient and global organisation is therefore essential to protect our health. In her address, Ms Sommaruga also explained that the WHO has been able to draw lessons from past pandemics. "I am certain that the organisation will conduct a critical examination of the current crisis with a view to further improving the way in which it manages health emergencies. At the moment however, the priority is on managing this crisis."
The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the WHO. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, this 73rd session is being held in a reduced format and will end on Tuesday. The World Health Organization was founded in 1948 after the Second World War as part of the United Nations with a view to working with states to promote the health of the world population and develop healthcare systems. Switzerland is a founding member of the WHO, which has its headquarters in Geneva.