Milestones :: Perspectives
World Health Assembly
22–31 May 2017, Geneva
Watch WHA70 live
A70/9 – Health emergencies: WHO response in severe, large-scale emergencies
A70/10 – Health emergencies: Research and development for potentially epidemic diseases
A70/14 – Poliomyelitis
A70/14 Add.1 – Polio transition planning
A70/17 – Review of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework
A70/20 – Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines
A70/25 – Global vaccine action plan
WHA70.4 – Expression of appreciation to Dr Margaret Chan
Opening address by Dr Chan, WHO Director-General
22 May 2017
Address by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as new WHO Director-General
23 May 2017
World Health Assembly elects Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as new WHO Director-General
23 May 2017 | GENEVA – Today the Member States of WHO elected Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the new Director-General of WHO.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was nominated by the Government of Ethiopia, and will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2017.
Prior to his election as WHO’s next Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia from 2012–2016 and as Minister of Health, Ethiopia from 2005–2012. He has also served as chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; as chair of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board; and as co-chair of the Board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
As Minister of Health, Ethiopia, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus led a comprehensive reform effort of the country’s health system, including the expansion of the country’s health infrastructure, creating 3500 health centres and 16 000 health posts; expanded the health workforce by 38 000 health extension workers; and initiated financing mechanisms to expand health insurance coverage. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he led the effort to negotiate the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, in which 193 countries committed to the financing necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
As Chair of the Global Fund and of RBM, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus secured record funding for the two organizations and created the Global Malaria Action Plan, which expanded RBM’s reach beyond Africa to Asia and Latin America.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will succeed Dr Margaret Chan, who has been WHO’s Director-General since 1 January 2007.
2017 Public health prizes awarded
26 May 2017 – Every year, national health administrations and former prize recipients submit nominations for prizes awarded for accomplishments in the field of public health. This year’s winners were presented with their awards during the plenary meeting of the Seventieth World Health Assembly.
:: Sasakawa Health Prize
The 2017 Sasakawa Health Prize of US$30 000 for outstanding innovative work in health development, has been awarded to Dr Rinchin Arslan for his remarkable lifelong contribution to the advancement of primary health care in Mongolia and specifically his work in fighting viral hepatitis.
:: United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize
The United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize of US$ 20 000 went to Professor Lô Boubou Baïdy, 61, of Mauritania, for his significant contribution to the establishment of the national blood transfusion centres and laboratory services , as well as his fight against viral hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
:: Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health
The Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health of US$ 100 000 was awarded to the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade (Cuba). Established in 2005 by more than 1500 Cuban health professionals, the Henry Reeve Brigade is integrated into the medical cooperation unit of the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba.
Seventieth World Health Assembly update, 26 May 2017
26 May 2017 | GENEVA – Today’s decisions at the World Health Assembly focused on implementation of the International Health Regulations, and improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.
International Health Regulations
Delegates emphasized the urgent need to achieve full implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) – the international legal instrument designed to help the global community prevent and respond to acute public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people worldwide.
The Regulations, which entered into force on 15 June 2007, require countries to report certain disease outbreaks and public health events to WHO. They define the rights and obligations of countries to report public health events, and establish a number of procedures that WHO must follow in its work to uphold global public health security.
Delegates requested the Director-General to work with Member States to develop a five-year global strategic plan for public health preparedness and response and submit it to the World Health Assembly in 2018. The strategic plan is to be based on guiding principles including consultation, country ownership, WHO leadership, broad partnerships, community involvement, regional integration, and results and accountability. The strategic plan is to focus on using an intersectoral approach; integration with the health system; focus on fragile contexts; domestic financing for sustainability; balance between legally binding and voluntary elements; with a guiding focus on monitoring.
Delegates also requested the Director-General to pursue and strengthen efforts to support Member States in full implementation of the Regulations, including through building their core public health capacities.
Delegates also agreed on a resolution to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.
Sepsis occurs when a person has an infection and the body’s reaction injures tissues and organs. Sepsis can be triggered by infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Bacterial infections are the most common triggers. Early recognition of sepsis is crucial to treating patients before their condition worsens and becomes fatal. Antimicrobial resistance makes it much more difficult to treat infections and stop them evolving into sepsis.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria and other microbes change to resist the effects of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicine. Most infections can be avoided by improving hygiene, access to vaccinations and other infection prevention measures.
The resolution urges governments to strengthen policies and processes related to sepsis, especially to prevent infections and the further spread of antimicrobial resistance. It emphasizes the importance of reinforcing health worker training to recognize and deal effectively with the condition, improve tracking and reporting of cases, and promote research to develop more tools for sepsis diagnosis and treatment.
Further, the resolution requests that WHO develop a report on sepsis and guidance for its prevention and management. In addition, the resolution directs the Organization to help countries develop the necessary infrastructure, laboratory capacity, strategies and tools to reduce the burden of sepsis. It also asks WHO to work with partners to help developing countries gain access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable sepsis treatments and tools for infection prevention and control, including immunization.
Seventieth World Health Assembly update, 25 May
25 May 2017 | GENEVA – The World Health Assembly today made decisions relating to polio, the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, and the health workforce.
Delegates paid tribute to ongoing efforts to end polio transmission in the last three endemic countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. They expressed concern about the continued shortage of inactivated poliovirus vaccine, and noted the urgent need to contain polioviruses in safe facilities, destroy unneeded materials, and appropriately contain resources that can be used for research or other purposes. This has become particularly important since the eradication of type 2 of the wild poliovirus in 2015.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988, following the adoption for a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio at the Forty-first World Health Assembly. Since then, the number of polio cases has fallen by over 99.9%. The initiative has also strengthened countries’ capacities to tackle other health issues, for example through better disease surveillance; immunization and health systems strengthening; early warning, emergency and outbreak response.
Delegates also addressed the challenge of scaling down the global polio response as eradication becomes closer, acknowledging the importance of developing a strategy to define the critical functions needed to sustain a polio-free world, as well as the global structures and financial requirements to support them. The development of this Post-eradication Certification Strategy is ongoing, and will be presented to the Executive Board and World Health Assembly next year.
Delegates welcomed efforts to plan for a post-polio world, including WHO’s organization-wide work to identify the key programmatic, financial, human resources and organizational risks associated with the eventual closure of the global polio eradication effort. They requested the Director-General to consider polio transition planning an urgent organizational priority and highlighted the need to ensure that polio transition needs are fully incorporated into the development of the next WHO budget and planning cycle.
Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework
Delegates reaffirmed the critical role played by the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework’s (PIP) as a specialized international instrument that facilitates expeditious access to influenza viruses of human pandemic potential, risk analysis and the expeditious, fair and equitable sharing of vaccines and other benefits.
They emphasized the importance of prioritizing and supporting global pandemic influenza preparedness and response, including through the strengthening of domestic seasonal influenza virus surveillance, manufacturing and regulatory capacities and international coordination and collaboration through the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) to identify and share influenza viruses with pandemic potential rapidly.
The Health Assembly agreed that the WHO secretariat should comprehensively analyse, in consultation with Member States and relevant stakeholders, including the GISRS, the implications of amending the definition of PIP biological materials to include genetic sequence data and expanding the PIP Framework to include seasonal influenza. The delegates further agreed that the PIP Framework model has potential to be used for other pathogens.
The PIP Framework was set up in 2011 to introduce greater equity and solidarity among nations when the next pandemic strikes. The PIP Framework provides WHO with real-time access to approximately 10% of global vaccine production, enabling the Organization to send life-saving doses to developing countries in need.
The Health Assembly agreed to a five-year action plan under which WHO will collaborate with the International Labour Organization, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in working with governments and key stakeholders to address the global health and social workforce shortfall and contribute to international efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The plan calls on countries to view the health and social workforce as an investment, rather than a cost, and take advantage of the economic benefits of growth in the health and social sector. It outlines how ILO, OECD and WHO will take intersectoral action on five fronts: galvanizing political support; strengthening data and evidence; transforming and scaling up the education, skills and decent jobs of health and social workers; increasing resources to build the health and social workforces; and maximizing the multiple benefits that can be obtained from international health worker mobility.
It also focuses on maximizing women’s economic empowerment and participation. It addresses occupational health and safety, protection and security of the health and social workforce in all settings. It also covers the reform of service models towards the efficient provision of care, particularly in underserved areas.
The action plan supports the WHO Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030. It will facilitate implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, which found that, as populations grow and change, the global demand for health workers will double by 2030.