The World Health Organization (WHO) today opened a Country Office in Kuwait in a move set to strengthen its presence and cooperation with the Government to support its efforts in advancing the health and well-being of the country’s population. The newly established office will enable WHO to work on the ground with United Nations agencies, partners, the authorities, and other stakeholders in health, development and other sectors to foster public health collaboration at the national, regional and international levels. Kuwait has long been an influential and strategic Member State and partner for WHO in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Kuwait contributed to and enhanced the global and regional response to the COVID-19, while the Ministry of Health led a well-coordinated multisectoral response to the pandemic within the country and strengthened national capacity across all levels of government.
The Minister of Health of Kuwait, Dr Bassel Humoud Hamad Al-Sabah, formally inaugurated WHO’s new premises in Kuwait City in a ceremony, in presence of H E Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Majdi AlDhafiri. The ceremony was attended virtually by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, and was hosted by the Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Resident Coordinator in Kuwait, Dr. Tarek El-Sheikh, and WHO’s Representative in Kuwait, Dr Assad Hafeez. “With the establishment of the new WHO Country Office, we look forward to forging an even stronger partnership and greater collaboration, and to seeing its impact on improving public health in Kuwait,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros. “As one of the first responders to the COVID-19 appeal, Kuwait’s contributions have played a critical role in helping WHO and health partners respond to the pandemic and in saving lives, particularly of the most vulnerable.”
From his side Dr Tarek Elsheikh said: “We are happy to announce the official opening of the WHO office in the State of Kuwait, a major milestone in our longstanding partnership for continued and sustainable national health achievements (that are excelling during this challenging times) and to complement its sister agencies in the United Nations Development system effective partnerships with Kuwaiti stakeholders. Kuwait has also been at the forefront of efforts to secure lifesaving support to millions under emergency and humanitarian crises. As a partner and advocate of WHO’s mandates, it has upheld the guiding principles of the United Nations Charter to Leave No One Behind through enabling the provision of life-saving interventions to affected communities in Syria, Iraq, Yemen amongst other countries.
In doing so, Kuwait has supported UN Agencies, funds and programmes to protect access rights to essential preventive and curative care for millions of vulnerable people. The great contribution made to WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) has played an unequivocal role in the rapid scale up of healthcare delivery during states of emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This commitment is resonant in the country’s most recent pledge to the COVAX facility, which will ensure equitable global vaccine coverage; and which is reinforced on the ground in Kuwait in the United Nations collaborative campaign with the Ministry of Health to promote vaccine confidence and uptake by migrant workers. Nationally, this close coordination has aligned national health strategies with WHO guidance for the ultimate goal of strengthening health system preparedness and capacities to respond to emergencies and to intervene sustainably for population health and wellbeing against preventable morbidity and mortality”.
On this occasion, the Minister of Health Dr. Bassel Al Sabah, appreciates the support of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, and Dr. Ahmed bin Salem Al-Mandhari, Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, and its keenness to take executive measures for the opening of the permanent headquarters of the Organization in the State of Kuwait within the United Nations system Where the will of the two parties met the importance of this step, especially at the present time when the world is living through the new Corona pandemic, which represents an unprecedented challenge and faces health systems worldwide, including the health system in the State of Kuwait, which requires strengthening international solidarity and cooperation to exchange experiences gained and lessons learned from Implementing surveillance, preparedness and response procedures and policies for the emerging corona pandemic and benefiting from them to support the global system to confront pandemics and epidemics.
Dr. Asaad Hafeez has been chosen as a permanent representative of the World Health Organization in its permanent office in Kuwait. We welcome him among his family and brothers. We wish him success and look forward to joint work by developing and updating the joint cooperation strategy between the State of Kuwait, the World Health Organization and all partners, which will define the axes and areas of joint action in accordance with the national health priorities. And the state’s development plan and commitment to achieving global goals and objectives for sustainable development related to health until 2030, and ensuring the commitment of the State of Kuwait before the international community in this regard, in implementation of the decisions of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
The Organization’s Regional Director, Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, said on this important occasion “enhancing national and regional collaboration with Kuwait was a major priority. “Kuwait has historically been a generous supporter of WHO causes and initiatives, especially in the context of emergency response, and has always provided its support where and when it is most needed.
The inauguration of this new Country Office will further advance our collaboration and bring us closer towards achieving our vision of Health for All by All in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.” Reaffirming WHO’s aim to provide support to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health, Dr Assad Hafeez, WHO Representative in Kuwait, commented: “We are looking forward to working closely with the Kuwaiti government and all stakeholders, especially the UN family, to advance the health and well-being of the population in Kuwait.
I have the privilege of being the first WHO Representative in Kuwait and I am committed to exerting all efforts to support the Ministry of Health and other sectors in their endeavors to achieve national and global health goals, including the response to COVID-19 pandemic.” Reaffirming WHO’s aim to provide support to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health, Dr Assad Hafeez, WHO Representative in Kuwait, commented: “We are looking forward to working closely with the Kuwaiti government and all stakeholders, especially the UN family, to advance the health and well-being of the population in Kuwait.
I have the privilege of being the first WHO Representative in Kuwait and I am committed to exerting all efforts to support the Ministry of Health and other sectors in their endeavours to achieve national and global health goals, including the response to COVID-19 pandemic.” The opening of the Kuwait Country Office reflects the critical importance of close contact with states and governments in WHO’s work. Country offices represent a link between the Organization and governments. The WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean Region comprises 22 countries and territories, most of which have a presence on the ground: the opening of the Kuwait Country Office brings the number of WHO country offices in the Region to 19. WHO country offices play a key role within the Organization in ensuring appropriate WHO technical cooperation with countries and leadership in the health sector. Functions of country offices include: policy advice and technical support; information, public relations and advocacy; and management and administration.