Speech – Closing remarks at the WHO Medal award ceremony for the Patron of the WHO Regional Office for Europe

23 February 2017, UN City, Copenhagen, Denmark

Today has offered us an opportunity to pay tribute to the invaluable contribution to global health of Her Royal Highness, The Crown Princess of Denmark, our Patron. I wish to congratulate HRH for receiving the WHO Medal from our DG, and thank you again for the work that is behind it. However, I would also like to seize this moment to thank, on behalf of all of us, our Director-General.

Dear Margaret, dear sister, thank you for your inspiring leadership, guiding WHO over the past eleven years and on every occasion championing efforts to achieve the highest level of health and well-being for all people across the globe.

You have steered us through the era of the Millennium Development Goals, your clear vision ensuring that the world delivered on global commitments to cut childhood and maternal deaths, spearheading efforts to improve access to life-saving medicines, and revitalizing primary health care.

As we embark on implementing the Sustainable Development Agenda, we acknowledge your leading role in shaping these goals, building consensus towards universal health coverage, underlining the moral and economic imperative of achieving gender equity, and bringing noncommunicable diseases, health determinants, antimicrobial resistance, and tuberculosis to global attention at the highest political levels.

The wide-reaching managerial, programmatic and governance reform you have implemented at WHO ensures that the organization is more robust and responsive, now better equipped to play its much needed role in today’s complex world.

These demanding times have meant that the journey has not always been easy. Your vision and strength has brought us through global emergencies – the influenza pandemic in 2009 and west-African Ebola outbreak that began in 2013 – to name but two. And you have been forthright in calling out challenges – from funding gaps to the unethical tactics and influence of the tobacco and food industries – wherever you find them.

This is not a good-bye, as I know your agenda is packed, your commitments on behalf of WHO full, until your final day as Director-General at the end of June.

I have spoken about the life-course today, and the importance of health at key moments in life.  I hope this new chapter in your life will bring you great joy and fulfilment, continuing good health, and that you will maintain close links with your friends here at the Regional Office.

Your impact has been profound. Your legacy is assured. But something tells me that you will continue to influence global health and development, even once your tenure as Director-General has come to a close. We look forward to watching your next chapter unfold.

Your Royal Highness, thank you once again for your invaluable support. I hope that your presence at this year’s Regional Committee in Budapest will be one of many opportunities to join forces in the future.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity today to share my profound gratitude for the work of two inspiring women.  Long may our collaboration continue.