Lyonpo Dasho Dechen Wangmo, Hon’ble Minister for Health, led the delegation to the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21 – 30 May 2023. The delegation consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Health, National Medical Services and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the UN in Geneva. During the opening session, Lyonpo was elected as one of the five Vice Presidents of the 76th Assembly. The World Health Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the WHO. The members as well as relevant stakeholders come together to discuss, amongst others, the policies of the organisation, affecting the health sector globally.
In addressing the World Health Assembly on the theme “WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all”, Lyonpo underscored the health priorities of the Royal Government to make universal healthcare a reality for all its citizens. Lyonpo also congratulated and acknowledged the role of WHO in building the Bhutanese health system. Drawing from the lesson learned from the pandemic, Lyonpo highlighted the need to take concerted strategies to ensure that health systems are resilient, responsive, and sustainable for future challenges. Lyonpo highlighted in particular the challenges of mental health and shortage of healthcare workers.
As one of the esteemed panellist in the Strategic Roundtable: “The World Together – Member State-led Processes to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and Response”, Lyonpo shared Bhutan’s experience in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the success of which was driven by the leadership of His Majesty The King, and the solidarity of the Bhutanese people and development partners.
Apart from attending the World Health Assembly, Lyonpo called on the following health partners to discuss post pandemic plans to build back better health system for Bhutan:
- Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO
- H.E. Mr. Zahid Maleque M.P., Hon’ble Health and Family Welfare Minister of Bangladesh
- Dr. Adriana Blanco Marquizo, Head of the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
- Dr. Craig Burgess Head of Data collection, Governance and Partnership Unit (CNG)
- Representatives of the Global Fund
- Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of SEARO
- Representatives of NGOs specialised in various fields in the health sector