Green Party Statement for UN World Health Day

OTTAWA – Since 1950, UN World Health Day has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization (WHO). Seventy years on, as the world struggles to cope with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, global collaboration has never been more important. The pandemic has strained health systems to breaking point, with health facilities and health workers in many countries overwhelmed and struggling to operate effectively.

“In this time of crisis it is easy to lose sight of key global goals to ensure improved health outcomes around the world,” said Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “UN World Health Day reminds us of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a blueprint to achieve a healthier and more sustainable future for all. The current pandemic underscores the importance of implementing universal pharmacare and other initiatives proposed by Greens, such as Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI).”

Ms. May noted that in 2019 the WHO warned that climate-related illnesses are increasing and need urgent attention. “The UN Commission on Planetary Health recognizes that human health and the health of our planet are inextricably linked. Let’s unpack lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis to better prepare for the next global emergency. It is already here and it is climate change.”

“As the world grapples with the COVID-19 outbreak we can’t forget that there are still people around the world dealing with diseases such as AIDs, measles and tuberculosis,” said Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith). “Even diseases that are close to being eradicated such as polio continue to kill people. The UN says that 7.6 million people die each year because of poor health related to malnutrition and hunger. We have the ability to feed the world and eradicate many of these diseases. What we need is the will to do so.”

The Green Party supports the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Health to expand the Canada Health Act to include prescription drugs dispensed outside of a hospital. Universal pharmacare will save lives and cut health-care costs. 

Green caucus health critic Jenica Atwin (MP, Fredericton) underscored the importance of supporting frontline workers. “In these uncertain times, when our limits are pushed beyond what we even thought possible, the global public health response to COVID-19 is something worthy of admiration,” said Atwin. “Here in Canada, when faced with a crisis, Canadians fall back on our sense of community and a selfless support for one another. No one exemplifies these values like the healthcare workers on the frontlines, ensuring excellent care and bearing the weight of the greatest exposure risk to the virus.”

Greens have called for the establishment of a national mental health strategy and a suicide prevention strategy to address the growing anxieties plaguing Canadians. “When we talk about health we must also be sure to include mental and emotional health,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “I am very grateful for those professionals and trained volunteers who are at the end of a help-line for those who are struggling with anxiety and depression triggered by this pandemic.”

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