I thank ILO for convening this meeting, and my thanks to all of you for your commitment this joint action group and its work over the past few months.
It seems hard to believe that it is now three years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has been so much more than a health crisis. It has caused severe disruption to businesses, economies, societies, and to travel, trade and supply chains.
This joint action group has been a valuable platform for sharing information between our organizations.
I know that my WHO colleagues, Dr Nedret Emiroglu and her team, have greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with your teams on the unique challenges faced by cross-border transport workers.
This has enabled us to ensure that our guidance remains operational, and that any unintended consequences from public health actions are taken into account.
The lessons we have all learned from the pandemic will be invaluable for our collective response to future health emergencies.
On behalf of WHO, I reaffirm our commitment to continue working with the members of this group, as agreed in the draft recommendations.
Although we have come to the end of our planned meetings, there is still much to be done to respond to the pandemic, and to prepare for future pandemics – because we know that this will not be the last.
We must continue building on the experience and relationships we have established through this process.
WHO is committed to working closely with the travel and transport sectors in the context of future health emergencies.
As you know, WHO’s Member States are now negotiating a legally binding international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
This will provide a vital framework for closer cooperation between countries in the face of a global health emergency.
I thank ILO, ICS and IRU for your submissions to the public hearings of the intergovernmental negotiating body.
These hearings provided a unique opportunity for our Member States to hear directly from concerned parties and take their suggestions and concerns into account.
Your experience and perspectives are invaluable as we work together to make essential transport workers are able to work and travel safely during health emergencies.
We will continue to communicate with all of you about future opportunities to engage with the international negotiating body, and with the review committee for the International Health Regulations.
Thank you all once again for your partnership in this joint action group.
We look forward to our continuing collaboration for a healthier, safer and fairer world.
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