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Source: New Zealand Government

Director-General, esteemed fellow Ministers, and colleagues, tēnā koutou katoa. Greetings to all.

Aotearoa New Zealand is alarmed at the catastrophic and complex health crisis evolving in Ukraine. We reiterate our call for an immediate end to Russian hostilities against Ukraine.

Chair, this 75th Session of the World Health Assembly comes at a critical time.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create a heavy burden on people and health systems.

And while the international system mobilised quickly in early 2020, our collective response has been inadequate to date.

Now is the time for us to act more decisively. Together. And with speed and ambition, so that the world can move through the acute phase of this pandemic and does not face a health emergency of this magnitude again.

Collectively we can make real progress on improving pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

More effective global rules and a resilient health architecture are critical.

We need better systems, tools, and frameworks to respond rapidly to outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential.

And equity must be at the heart of our approach, equity within and between countries.

Chair, the existing global health system has many sound elements, such as the International Health Regulations.

But our rules lack the coherence and status that they deserve.

And there are gaps to be addressed.

Aotearoa New Zealand is committed to a new legal instrument to support pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, through the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body.

And we must also commit to strengthening the World Health Organisation.

As members, we are best served by a World Health Organisation that is empowered to do its job.

We need to strengthen governance and put the organisation in a more sustainable funding position. That is up to us as Member States.

Predictable and flexible financing for the WHO is a priority for Aotearoa New Zealand and we are pleased with the progress being made on this front.

However, we are at the start of an ambitious journey – one that will require focus, courage, and compromise.

He ora te whakapiri, he mate te whakatākiri – this traditional saying from Aotearoa New Zealand reminds us that there is strength in unity, and disaster in discord. We must commit to the path of unity.

The pandemic continues to underscore the value of collective action, and the importance of upholding inclusivity in matters of health. There should be no room for politicisation, as global threats require a truly global response.

Chair, good health, economic prosperity, and social wellbeing are interdependent.

Together, we can build a healthier and more resilient future for our countries and for the world. New Zealand is fully committed to this future.

Tēnā koutou katoa.

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