The Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Health Organization (WHO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) committing to strengthening their collaboration on a broad range of public health issues, including the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine equity, advancing universal health coverage, and building resilient health systems.
The signing follows the move by The United Nations and the WHO at the opening of the Winter Olympics to highlight the need for the world to drive greater collaboration to fight COVID vaccine inequality and climate change.
In signing the document, the two parties agreed to work together and strengthen the exchange of information on seven priority areas: promoting universal health coverage and primary healthcare; strengthening global health security; promoting healthy environments; promoting the health of vulnerable groups; transforming lifelong learning for health impact; building a data partnership; and creating space for innovation and exchange of knowledge.
Both parties claimed the collaboration underscores the Commonwealth Secretariat’s and WHO’s longstanding commitment to ensuring equitable access to quality health services and promoting the health and wellbeing of all people.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland said:
“Equitable access to vaccines is the world’s most pressing political, economic, social and moral priority. Without effective and prompt action on vaccines, we face a never-ending global health crisis that will reduce all of our wealth and security.”
“And the most effective way for the world to tackle this and other challenges that we face, whether COVID-19, climate change or universal health coverage, is by working through multilateral institutions such as the Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Health Organization”
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: “Partnership is essential in ensuring all people can achieve the highest level of health possible. The new agreement between the World Health Organization and the Commonwealth Secretariat reflects the importance of collaboration to promote and protect people’s wellbeing.”
“WHO’s commitment to supporting all Commonwealth countries will be strengthened through our commitment to promoting universal health coverage, global health security and ensuring vulnerable groups receive all support needed to lead healthy lives.”