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Norways key note speeach at the 66th World Health Assembly (WHA66)

Norway's key note speech at the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

Mr. President, ministers and excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. 

Norway welcomes the discussion on the new development agenda. Hopefully, our deliberations at this Assembly can take us closer to a health community constructively contributing to the upcoming UN discussions.

The MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) have taught us important lessons: Serious and dedicated efforts work. In many countries we have improved statistics showing this, which means that focused international attention has given measureable improvements.

By identifying a limited number of clear goals, we can concentrate attention and focus efforts in a positive way.

Looking beyond 2015, the world will be different, compared to the turn of the century. While distribution of wealth between countries is becoming more even, the global trend is of increasing income disparities within countries, especially within developing countries. This accelerating inequality is undermining economic development in the longer term. Uneven distribution of wealth is not only bad for the poor—it is also bad for the rich. Poverty slows down the economy. It is simply unprofitable. This is why a fair distribution of national resources should be part of the new development agenda. 

Health challenges are closely linked with, and must be solved in connection with, issues such as food security, nutrition, energy, clean air and safe drinking water. We should therefore also raise awareness of how development goals in other sectors contribute to improved health. This was one of the key messages from the high level meeting on energy and the post 2015 agenda in Oslo recently. 

The summary conclusions from the consultations in Botswana in March are a constructive point of departure for further discussions on how to give health a visible and strong platform in the post 2015-development agenda.

“Maximising health at all stages of life” as an overarching health goal, reflects what people-centered, rights-based, equitable and sustainable development seeks to achieve. The goal addresses the need for action on determinants of health and on the root causes of ill-health, preventable disability and premature deaths. 

From a development and equity point of view we want to retain the present health-related MDGs. Progress has only recently picked up, due to a slow start during the five first years. However, progress is still uneven and insufficient. MDG 5 has made the least progress of all the health MDGs, but has significantly accelerated in recent years. This is a testimony that the development goals do work, but that we need continued focus. 

We find it appropriate that noncommunicable diseases are addressed in the context of development. NCDs are the leading cause of premature death and reduced quality of life, and constitute an important impediment to development. 

To support future work on NCDs, we can make important decisions together at this Assembly. When agreeing on the NCD Monitoring Framework, with its 25 indicators and 9 targets, and the NCD action plan 2013-20, we will establish a common ground for developing national strategies and tools to combat the causes of NCDs. 

Providing universal health coverage is key to securing the health of a population. This is not about promoting one single model. It is about making sure certain basic features are in place, such as access to treatment, including primary health care services and preventive measures. Furthermore, a financial minimum security must be established, so that nobody will risk financial ruin when seeking necessary health care. This issue need to be high on the post 2015-agenda. 

We have to make sure that what we do, is to support and build national capacity rather than substituting it. The principle of national responsibility must be underlined. 

Only by establishing and maintaining a health system which can address the different challenges humans meet through their life course, can we effectively address the next development goals.

Thank you, Mr. President 

 

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