GENEVA – Member countries of the World Health Organization voted on Wednesday in favor of a resolution condemning Russia’s continued war on Ukraine and its attacks on health services, in a move that, according to Russia, wrongly politicizes the organization.
The symbolic vote at the ongoing World Health Assembly in favor of a resolution was supported by 80 countries, with 52 abstentions, nine votes against and 36 absent. The countries also rejected a counter-resolution from Russia and Syria, with just 13 votes in favor. The rejection of Russia’s resolution was intended to “send a clear signal that causing a health emergency of exceptional magnitude and the massive destruction of medical facilities is not tolerated by this assembly and comes at a cost to the aggressor state.” , said the representative of Ukraine. at this week’s meeting.
The WHO is generally neutral on policy issues, preferring not to isolate countries while condemning attacks on health care.
Speaking today, Ukraine said Russia’s counter-proposal – which fails to acknowledge its role in impacting Ukraine’s health care – attempts to absolve the Kremlin of responsibility for the war.
The adopted resolution, co-sponsored by all EU countries except Hungary, is a repeat of a similar resolution adopted in 2022. This resolution was supported by 88 countries. Today’s decision follows recent success by European countries in forcing the relocation of the WHO’s non-communicable diseases office out of Moscow.
Ukraine told the assembly that the war had seen 1,256 health facilities damaged, with 177 reduced to rubble; approximately 237 health workers and patients dead and injured; and 21% of all ambulances damaged or destroyed.
Europe has acted repeatedly to push Russia to the fringes of the world stage, with the latest resolution another attempt to expose Russia’s role in the devastating war against Ukraine.
But Russia has opposed what it claims is an attempt to falsely politicize a body that is supposed to be neutral on politics. The representative from Moscow said that “the provision of medical care should be free from politics, just like the WHO,” adding that “Western countries are bringing politics into this organization.”