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Health for Peace -kokouksen puheenvuoro 17.1.

Presidentti Halonen osallistui maanantaina 17.1. Helsinki Policy Forumin järjestämään Health for Peace -kokoukseen, jossa hän piti puheenvuoron terveyden ja yhteiskunnallisen rauhan välisestä yhteydestä.

It is my pleasure to address this meeting today and I would like to thank the Helsinki Policy Forum for organizing it.

‘Health for peace’ is very topical issue: a lot of research is currently done on it. One of them is the Lancet-SIGHT Commission’s research on the interlinkages between health, peace and gender equality. I am happy to chair this Commission.

The past year has demonstrated in a dramatic way how deeply health is interconnected with the economy, social cohesion, and stability of the society. The greatest public health crisis in a century has underlined the need to work together across sectors, from communities to governments.

Peace contributes to conducive environment for health and wellbeing. Conflict, in turn, exacerbates public health problems, increases the risks for health crises as well as hinders the access to essential health services.

Healthy people thrive and contribute to resilience of communities and societies. Thus, health contributes to the “humanitarian-development-peace nexus” and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Strong and resilient health systems strengthen preparedness for different types of crises and create trust in the society.

To truly promote health for peace, we must put people, especially the most vulnerable groups of the society at the center. Women and girls often bear the heaviest burden in crises, including as health-care workers, family caretakers, or when facing violence or lack of essential services. Women’s role in decision-making, in turn can critically strengthen the response and resilience of the entire society.

These key findings were also included in the WHO Pan-European Commission report, which was published this September. I was honored to be part of this Commission and to chair the working-groups on societal resilience and gender.

Finland has championed the ‘economy of wellbeing’ approach. Investments in health, education, skills, and social protection contribute to sustainable social, economic and environmental recovery. They are also important for peace and social cohesion.

I believe that it is important to acknowledge and build on the essential role of health in the society, mainstream peace and conflict-sensitivity to health cooperation, and create platforms for discussion around joint challenges and opportunities for health.

The pandemic has underlined the need for cooperation across borders, in the regions and globally, and facilitated new ways of working together. Building on these experiences also in the future will support sustainable recovery and a healthier future.

The importance of health for peace and security is recognized in the Constitution of the World Health Organization from 1946. This notion remains as important today, as demonstrated by the Health for Peace Initiative promoted by the Sultanate of Oman and Switzerland. I look forward to today’s discussion on the topic.