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2023-05-22 at 13h53

Portugal notes importance of international cooperation in future pandemics and healthier generations

The Secretary of State for the Promotion of Health Margarida Tavares attends the 76th World Health Assembly, 21 May 2023, Geneva, Switzerland

The Secretary of State for the Promotion of Health, Margarida Tavares, highlighted the importance of deepening international cooperation to prepare the global response to future pandemics and build healthier generations. The Secretary of State noted that "in the last few decades, the World Health Organisation played a pivotal part in fighting global challenges, such as the Covid-19 pandemic", signalling the work carried out for the Universal Health Coverage and general access to primary health care to the population. 

Margarida Tavares was speaking at the 76th World Health Assembly on "75 years: saving lives, driving health for all", which takes place from 21 to 30 May in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the year when the World Health Organisation (WHO) is celebrating its 75th anniversary, Margarida Tavares said "this is the moment to deepen encompassing health policies that will improve health for the population", focused on promoting disease and promoting health, which is at the core of this international organisation. Twenty years ago, the WHO set the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted by Portugal in 2005, and which brought together more than 180 countries around the commitment to save millions of lives throughout the world, protecting the people from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. "The global health leaders were determined to oppose the use of tobacco. Time proved them right and, as such, they inspired us to renew this commitment", she underlined.

When addressing the Assembly, the Secretary of State note the recent proposal put forward by the Portuguese Government to strengthen current legislation on controlling tobacco with the aim of achieving a tobacco-free generation by 2040. "Even with the evidence of the effects of smoke-free policy and the progress reached in this area, the proposal was met with resistance" Margarida Tavares indicated, thanking the support given Tedros Adnanom, WHO Director-General, to boosting tobacco control policies. "Tobacco, as a threat to global health, requires a global response. You can count on our commitment", she retributed.

"This level of commitment, with impacts on the quality of life and health of the population, can and should be broadened to the agreement on pandemics", Margarida Tavares claimed, showing support to a new international treaty that allows the world to face future pandemics better.

The treaty that includes all the tobacco control measures is, until today, the only legal instrument negotiated in the WHO and currently binds 182 countries. The WHO hopes that a new treaty on pandemics, which seeks to fill the gaps identified in the fight against Covid-19 and which is currently being negotiated will become a second agreement of this type within one year, allowing for its adoption at the 2024 WHO Assembly.