Global patient movement welcomes new United Nations Secretary General

Monday, 19 December 2016

On 1st January 2017, a new era begins at the United Nations. Mr. António Guterres, the former Portuguese prime minister, will become the next UN Secretary General, replacing Ban Ki-moon. 

Mr. Guterres was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from June 2005 to December 2015. IAPO had a great collaboration with UNHCR on our interventions at the World Health Assembly and the WHO Regional Committee Meetings on the health of chronically ill refugees and internally displaced patients globally.

Chronically ill patients, already having suffered catastrophic denial of access to healthcare and medicines over many years (sometimes decades) in collapsing health systems as the belligerent parties start escalating hostilities, finally suffer the worst fate to befall a person when they become refugees and internally displaced patients as their homes finally come under attack.

At our Global Patients Congress 2016, our collaboration with the UNHCR was given a new boost by having Bruce Eshaya-Chauvin, a medical adviser to the health care in danger project (HCID) of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), bring us new insight into what the dedicated doctors and health professionals undergo as they try to treat not only the rising trauma injuries but also the acute needs of chronically ill patients as they run out of essential life-saving medicines. A type 1 diabetic patient can survive a few days if left untreated. 

In September 2016 IAPO met up with the UNHCR team once again when we participated in the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants and raised the issue of access to health care and patient rights of refugees and internally displaced people. . Recently we joined with ICRC and the HCID, and eleven other organizations, on a #ProtectHealthCare and #NotaTarget campaign.

Mr. Guterres promises a new era at UN and will need the support of all IAPO members in helping the UN realize the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage.  In addition, we can ensure that the UN Members States honour their existing obligations, undertaken when they ratified international human rights standards and conventions,  to protect the rights of migrant and refugee patients, including their right to health and access to essential healthcare services and financial protection for health.

We welcome and congratulate Mr. Guterres and hope to enjoy a great relationship with the UN and all its agencies in 2017.