Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

Health and well-being is a key goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to which the international community has pledged its support. At the UN Sustainable Development Summit in late September, the Heads of State and Government spelt out that the Agenda is not being implemented fast enough. In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by around 2030, we must significantly strengthen our endeavours worldwide. Above all, this requires developing a common understanding on how to proceed and pooling our strengths, including on global health issues.

To this end, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo and I asked WHO in April 2018 to guide the elaboration of a Global Action Plan to implement the 2030 Agenda’s health goals. Twelve international organisations were involved in drafting this Action Plan, which WHO presented during UN Week. The outcome is very gratifying. The plan provides us with a solid basis for improving support services in specific countries and making achievements more measurable through intermediate goals, thus enabling rapid adjustments where necessary. I am confident that with the help of this Action Plan, it will be possible to further improve the coordination of the countless activities in the health sector and thus use funds more efficiently.

The current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo once again highlights the importance and urgency of coordinated action. However, we are in a better position than during the epidemic of 2014 2015 in West Africa. Experimental vaccines and treatments are being used successfully. Despite great concern about the current outbreak, there are thus good reasons to hope that Ebola can be curbed effectively. In order to achieve this in the case of other dangerous infections, too, such as lassa fever, Germany is supporting the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which will invest up to a billion dollars in developing new vaccines.

In view of the possible dangers that pandemics pose to human life, but also to entire regions’ economies, security and development, it is and will remain important that we support the countries of the Global South in developing resilient education, research and health systems. The Research Network for Health Innovations in sub Saharan Africa, which is funded by the Federal Government, is one example of how this can be achieved in the field of health research. Our German-African partnerships aim to identify solutions to current health problems that can be put into practice on the ground.

Diseases and epidemics do not stop at national borders. Responsibility for healthcare thus does not end there either. The World Health Summit plays a key role in living up to this responsibility. As patron of the Summit, I am profoundly grateful to all those who play a part in its success, as the event focuses on new and better prospects for the lives of people all over the world. On that note, I hope your exchange of thoughts and experiences at the Summit will prove both interesting and productive.