Remarks by Dr Michael O'Leary, WHO Representative in China, at the Launching Ceremony of Department of Global Health, Peking University
Professor Ke Yang, Meng Qingye and Liu Peilong,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here today on behalf of WHO for the launching of the Department of Global Health at Peking University Health Science Centre.
This is an important event for many reasons. We know, first of all, that health issues are globally interconnected. Diseases have no boundaries. A threat to one country is a threat to all, and requires a collective global response.
The sudden and deadly arrival of SARS on the global health stage early in 2003 was one of the most dramatic examples, and had particular relevance for China. The influenza A(H1N1) outbreak in 2009 was another reminder of just how much countries are interconnected. But there are innumerable other examples, from food safety to the environment.
China has decades of global health engagement, but now with rapid development is poised to assume an even greater role. This is both an opportunity and a responsibility for China, as an emerging economic power and global leader.
China has very much to contribute, given its now strong technical and institutional capacity, the expertise achieved by many well-trained and experienced health and public health workers, and its own extensive and successful experience at national level in disease control and in the development of health systems.
Furthermore, China has demonstrated long term commitment to global health.
China is closely involved in global health governance structures, serving as a member of the Executive Board of WHO, The Global Fund and other key global health entities.
China has signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and ratified it in 2005. Worldwide the WHO FCTC is the most important tool for parties in the fight against the tobacco epidemic. China has extended strong support to FCTC at both national and international high level meetings and advocated global tobacco control strategies to be adopted in China's national policies.
China is also an active partner and participant in establishing and implementing the International Health Regulations and other global health agreements.
China now plays an increasingly important role in south-south cooperation. While China has a long history of providing health support to Africa, sending its first of many teams of health workers to Algeria in 1963, and among other things establishing malaria centers across Africa, recent years have seen increased interest from both sides in deepening the relationship and expanding cooperation, dialogue and investment in many areas, including pharmaceuticals, technology transfer, and health governance.
In furthering this work, the Institute for Global Health of Peking University Health Science Centre, and Ministry of Health have convened three Roundtables on China-Africa Collaboration in Health, and established a sound basis for future collaboration.
This evolving strong partnership with African countries signals a joint commitment to improve health status and health institutions on that continent.
But China has also engaged closely in many regional initiatives in Asia, and contributed directly to such global priorities as eradication of poliomyelitis.
And of course China is also a major supplier of medicines, vaccines, and health commodities, and is assuming a larger role in the provision of quality affordable products, contributing to a critical supply of global public health goods.
All of this is evident in the commitment to global health of technical, research, and academic institutions in China; a commitment which is further confirmed by this launching today. This new Department is very well-positioned to be a leader in further developing the capacity of public health professionals in China, and in the process bringing and sharing international experience, and providing further opportunities for China to share its experience with the world.
WHO is a global public health organization. We believe strongly in the importance of a global approach to meeting the many health challenges we face in the world today. This is why we have a network of offices and staff around the world, from our Headquarters in Geneva, to Regional and country offices.
Success depends on linking the efforts of Governments, institutions, health organizations, and public health professionals around the world, in joint and coordinated efforts to reduce the burden of disease and disability.
And this is why we are so pleased with the launch today of this new and vital Department of Global Health.
We at WHO, and in fact health workers and organizations around the world, recognize that China has a key role to play in securing global health, and are very pleased with China's commitment to do.
The launching of the Department of Global Health opens a new page in this effort. We look forward to its future work and future contribution with great anticipation.
Congratulations to all those who have made this possible.