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Cablegate: Who: Impact of the Financial Crisis On Achievement

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RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHGV #0916/01 3081643
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031643Z NOV 08
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7368
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5797
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 3180
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 6478
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 2816
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 5598
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 4757
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6816
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2851

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GENEVA 000916

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN ECON TBIO WHO
SUBJECT: WHO: IMPACT OF THE FINANCIAL CRISIS ON ACHIEVEMENT
OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

1. Summary. WHO convened a meeting of G-20 countries on
October 31 to discuss the impact of the financial crisis on
health and the social sector. Director-General Chan asked
for advice, called for stable Official Development Assistance
(ODA), committed to working with vulnerable countries,
promised better UN coherence, and said she would establish a
task force to provide periodic assessments to Member States.
She hoped the discussion at the meeting would feed into the
Washington summit on Nov. 15. Countries applauded her
initiative, agreed on the importance of protecting the social
sector, committed to continue assistance to WHO and social
programs, and looked to WHO for assistance to vulnerable
countries. End summary.

2. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan convened a meeting on
October 31 of Ambassadors of G-20 countries to discuss the
impact of the financial crisis on achievement of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Every G-20 country was
represented with the exception of Argentina and the United
Kingdom. Charge d,affaires Mark Storella represented the
United States.

3. Chan opened the meeting by recalling her participation
the week before in a meeting of the Chief Executives Board in
New York where the Secretary-General (SYG) had pledged that
the UN system would work together to support Member States
during this difficult period, stressing the need for UN
coherence. Chan expressed pleasure that the SYG had been
invited to participate in President Bush,s November 15
summit on the economic crisis and said he would speak for the
UN with one voice.

4. Recalling a retreat she had hosted for her senior staff
from Headquarters and regional offices earlier in the week,
Chan said she had heard concerns from countries about the
unprecedented global challenge that would affect not only the
poor but the middle-class as well. She said she would
establish a WHO task force to look at which countries are
most vulnerable, to provide periodic assessments to share
with Member States, and to advise on how WHO can help
countries protect public health and the social sector.

5. In responding, a number of G-20 Ambassadors made similar
points: they welcomed Chan,s initiative to focus on the
impact of the crisis on health; long-term solutions were
necessary; the impact on developing countries had to be
recognized and addressed; it was essential to maintain
development assistance levels, and most committed to doing
that; achieving the MDGs remained a priority; partnerships
with the private sector are essential; and UN coherence will
contribute to a collective, coordinated response in a
multilateral framework. Ambassadors also welcomed the
Washington summit as a significant contribution to addressing
these issues.

6. France, speaking for the EU, reaffirmed the importance of
ODA, since the most serious repercussions of the crisis would
be on the poor. Brazil stressed that solutions had to be
inclusive because developing countries would be most affected
and suggested creation of a monitoring system to track ODA
levels. Australia, saying it would mobilize business to
support the MDGs, expressed concern about the impact of the
crisis on the WHO budget, seventy-nine percent of which is
voluntarily funded. Echoing this point, India said WHO
should advise Member States on how to protect the health
sector. Japan, recalling the priority the G8 gives to
health, reaffirmed its commitment to development assistance.
South Africa appealed for continued ODA and a refocus on
primary health care to meet basic human needs. Russia
referred to the UNGA debate the day before and saw the Doha
review conference on financing for development as another
vehicle to address these concerns. Mexico stressed better UN
coordination for an effective response and suggested WHO
would have to make economies in its own budget in light of
the current crisis. The World Bank offered to assist the WHO
task force in forecasting countries, vulnerabilities,
analyzing public and private expenditures for health, which
are likely to fall, and pointed to the importance of
remittances as a contribution to the social sector.

7. U.S. Charge welcomed the Director-General,s initiative
and the contribution the discussion could make to the

GENEVA 00000916 002 OF 002


Washington summit. He recalled the President's Summit on
International Development and his reaffirmation of America's
commitment to international development, regardless of the
ebb and flow of the markets. Noting the recent
reauthorization of PEPFAR, Charge also confirmed bipartisan
support for development efforts as an enduring priority for
the United States.

8. In concluding, Chan expressed appreciation for the
group's support and encouraged Member States to speak with
one voice in support of health and the social sector in the
governing bodies of various UN organizations. She committed
to pushing for better UN coherence, noting each UN agency
must focus on its core competencies, but declined to seek to
represent all UN social-sector agencies to the G-20. She
said she would engage with the private sector - which she
described as "not evil" - and foundations, which she said
would not walk away from their health investments. She
promised to work with countries to address their
vulnerabilities and to prioritize the WHO budget in line with
those vulnerabilities. She asked for more flexibility in
using the WHO's voluntary contributions, said staff cuts were
a reality, and committed to being accountable to Member
States.

STORELLA

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