Federal Councilor Berset opens the World Health Assembly of the WHO

Press release, 21.05.2021

Federal Councilor Alain Berset opened the 74th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva. In his speech, Alain Berset praised the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and asked the member states to make sustainable investments in a global health protection structure. During their attendance at the Assembly, Federal Councilor Berset and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus signed a cooperation agreement as part of the WHO BioHub initiative.

The values of multilateralism, solidarity and international cooperation are essential to combat the COVID-19 pandemic effectively. On opening the 74th World Health Assembly, Federal Councilor Alain Berset said that a universal and coordinated approach to health protection is indispensable, since no country can master such a crisis on its own. He thanked the WHO for their continued commitment and called for strengthening of the organization's leading role in preparing for and combating health crises such as pandemics. He assured the WHO that Switzerland would help to implement international recommendations during and after the crisis.

Switzerland promotes fair global access to vaccines, tests and medications in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic over the long term. In this regard, the Swiss government is actively involved in the COVAX initiative for fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and supports strategies such as the "Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator".

Memorandum of understanding signed

Timely and transparent exchange of epidemiological and clinical data is of great importance to Switzerland during a pandemic. Federal Councilor Berset and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus signed a cooperation agreement within the framework of the WHO BioHub initiative while attending the World Health Assembly. With this agreement, Switzerland makes the Spiez biological safety laboratory of the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) available to the WHO as a repository for SARS-CoV-2 viruses or other pathogens with epidemic or pandemic potential, and is helping to set up an international system for the voluntary exchange of novel pathogens.

The World Health Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the WHO. Every year in May, delegates of the WHO member states meet in Geneva to decide on the thematic, financial and organizational direction of the WHO and to review as well as define its future programs. The meeting will also be carried out virtually this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic; it will last until June 1, 2021.


Address for enquiries:

Federal Office of Public Health
Communication, media@bag.admin.ch

Questions about the Spiez biological safety laboratory:
Andreas Bucher, Communication FOCP,
tel. +41 58 468 15 98


Publisher:

Federal Department of Home Affairs
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs