Speech of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark at Medal Award Ceremony
23 February 2017, UN City, Copenhagen, Denmark
Director-General, Regional Director, honourable ministers, ambassadors, distinguished guests and members of the UN family
Health is an essential building block for development, for creating equitable and sustainable societies.
And although we enjoy better health than ever before, many complex challenges affect health. As countries, communities and individuals we face economic crisis, widening inequalities, an ageing population, the emergence or re-emergence of some communicable diseases, the burden of non-communicable diseases, migration and urbanization, environmental damage and climate change.
The value of a strong, unifying and action-driven WHO is critical to having any chance of overcoming these challenges. The progress and successes that have been achieved over the past years are a testament to the ambition and commitment of WHO and its’ Member States. And although ‘the bar is constantly being raised’ and new goals are constantly being set, it is important to recognize how far this Region has come – to reflect on just how much health and wellbeing within this Region have improved.
The past 12 years as Patron of WHO Regional Office for Europe has been both an educational and rewarding journey. It is a very fulfilling role and I am very proud to be Patron of an organization that is so dedicated to improving the health and well-being of every person, at every stage of life, not only in this richly-diverse Region of Europe but, also globally.
I’m truly honoured to receive the WHO Medal for commendable contributions to global health but, most of all I’m thankful that my contribution to the work of WHO is seen as adding value to the efforts of achieving its’ mission of ‘Good Health for All’. To me, this Medal symbolizes my relationship with the WHO team and our journey together and it symbolizes the hope we share.
I became Patron in 2005, amid global efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Since then, I have had the opportunity to advocate for WHO’s vital and life-saving work in the areas of: maternal, child and adolescent health; immunization; and antimicrobial resistance.
Today, these issues are rightfully prioritized in the Sustainable Development Goals - at the heart of the global agenda. In the European Region, the Health 2020 policy framework provides a strong foundation for achieving the SDGs and leaving no one behind. This is an exciting time, with great opportunities for making progress and I’m proud to be a part of this work in my role as Patron.
I would like to thank the Regional Director and her dedicated and professional staff at the WHO Regional Office for guiding and supporting me as Patron over the past 12 years. Your expertise and knowledge has deepened my understanding of health and development in the Region and that, has enabled me to be a stronger advocate for health-related issues.
And thank you, Zsuzsanna, for our visits to member states; to Tajikistan in 2014 and the Republic of Moldova last November. These visits provide me with valuable first-hand insight into the health challenges facing the Region, as well as the progress being made to address them. Seeing the real impact of health policy on individuals and families has only strengthened my commitment to the important work of WHO.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank WHO’s Director-General, Dr Chan. Thank you for your remarkable and authentic global leadership. You are an unwavering champion of the principle that all people have a fundamental right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health. You have led the global community to truly understand and see that good health and well-being can aid and support so many other areas of development.
There is an old proverb that says, “He who has health has hope. And he who has hope has everything.” I do believe that health brings people happiness and hope.
Thank you once again for the recognition you have honoured me with today. I can only say that, I look forward to continuing our work together in realizing our shared goal of a better, healthier future for all.