Estonian health minister wants to stop Russia's participation in WHO decision-making

  • 2022-05-24
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Russia and other aggressors states should not take part in the decision-making processes of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases situated in Moscow should be relocated, Estonian Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik said in his speech at the 75th World Health Assembly.

"Three months ago on Feb. 24, our world changed. Russia's extensive war against Ukraine has devastating consequences to health and wellbeing that may last for several generations," Kiik was quoted by spokespeople as saying. "Estonia condemns Russia's military aggression in the strongest terms. We stand with Ukraine and its people in these difficult times, both in words and in action."

The theme for the 75th World Health Assembly is "Health for peace, peace for health!". Kiik said that while there is a consensus on the matter among most WHO member states, it is not the case with all of them.

"The Russian Federation, which is cruelly killing children and other civilians, bombing homes, schools and hospitals, should not be permitted to take part in WHO's decision-making until its fully respects the international law and human rights," Kiik said. "The same goes for all other aggressor states. The WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases currently situated in Moscow should be relocated as well. It is the least we can do."

Estonia supports a resolution submitted by Ukraine for the 75th World Health Assembly regarding a health emergency in Ukraine caused by Russia's aggression as well as in countries taking in war refugees.

"Human suffering and loss of life caused by this war are intolerable and must be stopped. Moreover, they never should have happened," Kiik said at the World Health Assembly.

As part of the assembly, a meeting was held between Baltic delegations and Ukrainian Minister of Health Viktor Liashko and Director General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The health ministers of the Baltic states sent a joint statement on March 9 to Ghebreyesus and WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge in which they called for comprehensive support to the Ukrainian medical system and for excluding Russia from the organization's decision-making processes.

Estonia has to date provided over 235 million euros' worth of humanitarian and defense aid to Ukraine, being one of the biggest providers of assistance considering the size of its population. In addition to weapons, Estonia has also sent medicines and medical supplies to Ukraine.

The 75th World Health Assembly takes place in Geneva on May 22-28. The assembly is the WHO's highest decision-making body with delegations from across the world taking part in the event.