World Health Assembly Adopts Resolution Condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine – For Second Year Running
Ukraine’s representative speaks at the World Health Assembly ahead of the vote.

In a strong statement against the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the violence and calling for an immediate halt to Russian attacks on health facilities. Russia and Syria floated a resolution that made no mention of the Russian aggression, and which failed to find any support among other member states in the Assembly.

The resolution, co-sponsored by some 53 countries, including most of Europe, the United States and Australia, and Japan and the Republic of Korea, passed with 80 member states in favour and nine opposed. Another 52 member states abstained while 36 countries were absent from the vote – out of the 177 WHO member states attending WHA and eligible to vote. 

The WHA resolution, the second in as many years, notes that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine constitutes “exceptional circumstances” and is causing a serious impediment to the health of the population in Ukraine, as well as in surrounding regions. 

Prior to the vote both Russia and Ukraine engaged in a bitter war of words for the second day running, with Russia urging the WHO to not take a political stand.

“The provision of medical care should be free of politics and so should the work of the WHO. However, western countries are bringing their politics into this organization and that is undermining all our cooperation with each other and with the organization,” Russia’s delegate stated. 

The resolution also calls for an assessment of the impact of Russia’s aggression on the health sector. 

Ukraine responded strongly to Russia, calling its aggression unprovoked. “I hope that nobody in this room will be deceived by Russia’s cynical lies while its army continues shelling Ukrainian hospitals, killing our doctors and patients, denying the rights to millions of people in Ukraine and well far beyond the right to health,” Ukraine’s delegate said. 

Ukraine received strong support from Denmark which was speaking on behalf of 32 member countries in the European region. The European bloc also has demanded that the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases based in Moscow be moved to Copenhagen.  “To host a UN office is a privilege and not a right,” 

The office is to be moved before January 2024, according to the WHO.

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