AMWA Leaders, Dr. Padmini Murthy (AMWA Global Health Lead, AMWA UN Representative) and Dr. Connie Newman (MWIA Vice-President of North America, MWIA UN Representative, AMWA Past President) represented AMWA last week at the UN General Assembly sessions held in New York City. These sessions convened all UN Member States as well as NGO’s working in collaboration with various UN agencies. AMWA is affiliated with the UN Department of Global Communications and MWIA is affiliated with the UN Department of Global Communications and the UN Economic and Social Council.
The United Nations 78th General Assembly (GA) marked the historic commemoration of the mid-point of the adoption of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda by the member states. Dr. Murthy attended the start of the high level debate in the General Assembly on Tuesday, September 19, and was privileged to hear President Joseph Biden’s address to the United Nations General Assembly.
Both Dr Murthy and Dr. Newman attended the SDG Action Weekend on September 16-17 which was attended by representatives from civil societies, the private sector, youth, scientists, local and regional governments and diplomats from around the world. Dr. Murthy had the good fortune of conversing with WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the Walk the Talk in Central Park which was organized by the NYC Mayor’s Office of International Affairs and the World Health Organization.
There were three high level meetings on health which were convened by the office of the President of the General Assembly. Both Dr. Murthy and Dr. Newman attended the high level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) which focused on approaches to improve maternal health and achieve universal health coverage through strategic private sector collaborations. The 78th UN General Assembly endorsed the Political Declaration On UHC. Dr. Murthy also attended the high level meeting focused on the Fight against tuberculosis (TB) which resulted in a Historic Political Declaration on TB adopted by member States at the UN high level meeting on TB. A third high level meeting on The September 20th focused on Pandemic Prevention Preparedness and Response. The GA adopted the Landmark Declaration, and called for Strengthening High-level International Coordination to Improve Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response.
Dr. Murthy also participated as a panelist in several side events during the UN General Assembly.Dr Murthy also moderated a panel at the inaugural convening of Bringing Oral Health to the Table, a side event, and also participated in a high level meeting in the UN on Cure All Implementation Advancing Toward UHC Realization and Bridging the Survival Gap in Childhood Cancer, convened by Slovakia, WHO, Argentine, Ghana, Republic of Moldova, Austria, Belgium Zambia , SriLanka , St Jude’s Children’s Research hospital. She had the opportunity to visit the Suriname Mission to the United Nations and present to the First Lady of Suriname HE Melissa Santokhi an AMWA Menstrual Pack as part of AMWA’s Menstrual Health Equity Project.
Both Dr. Murthy and Dr. Newman attended many sessions on Acceleration Day, which aimed to encourage new initiatives to accelerate SDG implementation by governments and non-state actors. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to delays in SDG implementation, and more financial investment is needed to achieve these goals.
In an opening video on September 17th, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, called out to businesses, members of civil society, young people, and activists to think “big and ambitious” and get the SDGs back on track. The panel at the opening session (Why and Where is There Hope?) featured leaders from a variety of disciplines, including financial strategists, and several government officials including the President of Iceland, and the Mayor of Bogota, Columbia, Claudia Lopez. Other sessions included Transforming food systems to eradicate hunger, universal access to clean and affordable energy, strengthening data systems and financing for data systems, protecting nature, social protection and jobs, scaling up financing for the achievement of the SDGs, and a session on violence against women and girls.
The elimination of violence against women and girls is a spotlight initiative of the UN and the European Union. Progress has led to 500 new laws and policies and the participation of 2.5 million people in programs to end violence. Speakers included the Vice President of the European Commission, the Chief Innovation Officer and Advisor to the President of Sierra Leone, foreign minister of Timor-Lestee, the singer Milck, and the actors Cecilia Suarez (Mexico), Natalie Portman (US), Ashley Judd (US) and Nicolaj Coster-Landau (Denmark)- all advocates for an end to violence against women and girls. Topics included the prevalence of violence against women and girls (1 in 3), the contribution of economic empowerment to the safety of women, education of boys and men about safe expression of masculinity, and gun violence.
Also attending the UN meetings were MWIA colleagues, Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, President MWIA, Dr. Amany Asfour (MWIA President elect), Dr. Sorosh Roshan (Founder International Health Awareness Network), and Dr. Ellen Ferranti (MWIA UN representative).