World Health Assembly
"World must be better prepared, coordinated and supported to protect all people, everywhere"
Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) have agreed to develop the first draft of a legally binding agreement designed to protect the world from future pandemics. This “zero draft” of the pandemic accord, rooted in the WHO Constitution, will be discussed by Member States in February 2023. Agreement by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), comprised of WHO’s 194 Member States, was a milestone in the global process to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent a repeat of the devastating impacts it has had on individuals and communities worldwide. The INB gathered at WHO headquarters in Geneva from 5-7 December for its third meeting since its establishment in December 2021, following a special session of the World Health Assembly. The Body today agreed that the INB’s Bureau will develop the zero draft of the pandemic accord in order to start negotiations at the fourth INB meeting, scheduled to start on 27 February 2023. This draft will be based on the conceptual zero draft and the discussions during this week’s INB meeting. The INB Bureau is comprised of six delegates, one from each of the six WHO regions, including the Co-Chairs Mr Roland Driece of the Netherlands and Ms Precious Matsoso of South Africa. Read more: Declare COVID-19 vaccines a global common good: Global leaders “Countries have delivered a clear message that the world must be better prepared, coordinated and supported to protect all people, everywhere, from a repeat of COVID-19,” said Driece, Co-Chair of the INB Bureau. “The decision to task us with the duty to develop a zero draft of a pandemic accord represents a major milestone in the path towards making the world safer.” Fellow INB Bureau Co-Chair, Matsoso, said government representatives stressed that any future pandemic accord would need to take into account equity, strengthen preparedness, ensure solidarity, promote a whole-of-society and whole- of-government approach, and respect the sovereignty of countries. “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human lives, economies and societies at large must never be forgotten,” said Matsoso. “The best chance we have, today, as a global community, to prevent a repeat of the past is to come together, in the spirit of solidarity, in a commitment to equity, and in the pursuit of health for all, and develop a global accord that safeguards societies from future pandemic threats.” Read more: WHO DG announces Global Health Leaders Awards The WHO pandemic accord is being considered with a view to its adoption under Article 19 of the WHO Constitution, without prejudice to also considering, as work progresses, the suitability of Article 21.
Declare vaccines as global goods, Hasina urges World Health Assembly
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday reiterating her call to treat vaccines as global public goods saying that sustainable recovery cannot be ensured by leaving millions behind in vaccination efforts. “We believe that vaccines should be treated as global public goods. We cannot ensure a sustainable recovery by leaving millions behind in our vaccination efforts,” she said in a pre-recorded video statement at the High-level Segment of the 75th World Health Assembly. Also read: PM Hasina: I had to redesign the Padma Bridge to make it longer The premier said that technology and technical know-how need to be shared to scale up vaccine production in developing countries like Bangladesh. “We must work towards concluding the Pandemic Treaty for an inclusive and equitable response to future pandemics,” she said. Hasina also called for extra attention on climate change impacts on disease burden. She said, Bangladesh stands ready to collaborate on medical research, including for neglected tropical diseases. Anti-microbial resistance needs to be addressed in a concerted manner. “We must remain focused on non-communicable diseases expanding in developing countries. We need to invest further in research and access for cancer and diabetes treatments,” she said. She also said that mental health issues deserve to be addressed as part of health emergency response. “We seek international support in preventing road accidents, drowning and other public health hazards,” she said. The PM said that Bangladesh remains committed to achieving SDG-3 to promote healthy living for people of all ages. She said that the government has been able to take health care services to the doorsteps of the people through more than 18,000 community clinics and health centres. She informed that her government is working on child nutrition, with marked decline in stunting and wasting between 2007 and 2019. “We aim to have 65 per cent birth deliveries by skilled attendants and 50 percent coverage of four antenatal-care visits by the end of 2022.” The premier said that Covid-19 pandemic is still having huge impacts on lives and livelihoods around the world. Also read:PM urges fixing war-disrupted global supply chains to tame rising prices In Bangladesh, she said, “We managed to tackle its threats through a combination of healthcare, fiscal and social safety measures.” She mentioned that the government announced 28 stimulus packages worth USD 23 billion, which is about 6.3 per cent of country’s GDP. She said the government provided cash and other assistance to nearly 40 million vulnerable people and provided vaccines to the people at free of cost. “We managed to contain the pandemic in the most densely populated camps for Myanmar’s forcibly displaced Rohingya,” she said. She said that her government allocated USD 1.61 billion for procuring vaccines from its national budget. She also thanked development partners for their donation of COVID-19 vaccines, including through COVAX. “Over 100 per cent of our target population has already been vaccinated,” she informed. She said that the government is grateful for the dedicated work of the frontline service providers. “We tried to stand by our neighbouring countries with medicines, PPEs and healthcare workers,” she added. Talking about the WHO she said, it remains the most important actor in global health governance. “We must provide sustainable financing and allow necessary reforms to enable WHO to support health systems around the world.” She said, Bangladesh commits to do its part in line with its priorities for public health and diplomacy. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, President of France Emmanuel Macron, President of Croatia Zoran Milanović, President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Dominican Republic Luis Abinader Corona, President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, Conseiller Fédéral, Suisse Alain Berset and Vice-President of Ecuador Alfredo Enrique Borrero Vega also spoke at the programme.
75th World Health Assembly to focus on “Health for Peace, Peace for Health” for recovery, renewal
In a world threatened by conflict, inequities, the climate crisis and pandemics, the seventy-fifth session of the World Health Assembly will stress the importance of building a healthy and peaceful planet by harnessing science, data, technology and innovation. This year’s session of the Health Assembly will focus on the theme of “Health for Peace, Peace for Health” and will run from May 22-28 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. It will include the appointment of the next WHO Director-General. “The pandemic has undermined progress towards the health-related targets in Sustainable Development Goals and laid bare inequities within and between countries,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Sustained recovery will require more than ‘getting back on track’ and reinvesting in existing services and systems. We need a new approach, which means shifting priorities and focusing on the highest-impact interventions.” The seventy-fifth World Health Assembly will kick off with a high-level segment on May 22 with speeches from the elected Health Assembly President, Heads of State, special guests, an address by the WHO Director-General and the presentation of the Director-General’s Health Awards. The Director-General’s speech will set out WHO’s five priorities going forward, expanding from the vision delivered at the Executive Board meeting held in January 2022. Ahead of the Health Assembly, on May 20, WHO will publish the latest set of World Health Statistics, its annual compilation of health statistics for WHO’s 194 Member States. Also Read: World Health Assembly to focus on ending pandemic The latest edition summarizes trends in life expectancy and causes of death and reports on progress towards global health/development goals for 2020. The 2020-2021 Results Report, also published before WHA, summarizes the Organization's achievements and challenges in implementing the programme budget. Key issues The Health Assembly will discuss global strategies on food safety, oral health, and tuberculosis research and innovation. It will also discuss the report of the Working Group on WHO Sustainable financing. Other key topics under discussion include: Strengthening WHO preparedness for and response to health emergencies An implementation road map 2023–2030 for the global action plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases Intersectoral Global Action Plan on epilepsy and other neurological disorders 2022-2031 Prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment Poliomyelitis Global Health for Peace Initiative Agenda items will be discussed in Committee A, which deals with predominantly programme and budget matters, and Committee B, which deals mainly with administrative, financial and legal matters. Assembly delegates, partner agencies, representatives of civil society and WHO experts will also discuss priorities for public health in a series of strategic roundtables. The Health Assembly is WHO’s highest decision-making body, setting out the Organization’s policy and approving its budget. WHA is attended by delegations from all WHO 194 Member States. The Health Assembly’s agenda is prepared by the Programme, Budget and Administration Committee of the Executive Board, which will meet on May 18-20. The Health Assembly is open to Member States, Associate Members, Observers, invited representatives of the UN and other participating inter-governmental organizations and non-State actors. The Assembly will be webcast live from the WHO website. The provisional agenda and Assembly documents can be accessed here. Please note that a preliminary timetable is available here: Preliminary daily timetable for the seventy-fifth World Health Assembly.
World Health Assembly to focus on ending pandemic
The 74th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) will run from May 24 to June 1 that will stress the urgency of ending the current pandemic and preventing the next one by building a healthier, safer and fairer world. The Health Assembly is WHO’s highest decision-making body and is attended by delegations from all around the world. This year's session will be held virtually when Covid-19 threatens the health and well-being of everyone on the planet. Over the past year, the cases of Covid-19 rose to 40 folds to 162 million globally, while the number of deaths has increased 11 times, to more than 3.3 million. It will also be open to Associate Members, Observers, invited representatives of the UN and other participating inter-governmental organizations, and non-State actors. The pandemic has hit all the countries hard, but its impact has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable, who are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality healthcare services and more likely to experience adverse consequences (such as loss of income) as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic. “A crisis often brings out the best in people and organisations,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Also read: Declare COVID-19 vaccines a global common good: Global leaders From the WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan to our technical guidance, the Solidarity Trial, the UN Supply Chain Task Force, the OpenWHO.org learning platform and initiatives like the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, including its COVAX partnership, and the Solidarity Response Fund, WHO has given countries effective and evidence-informed tools to prevent infections, save lives and maintain essential health services, he said. "I'm especially proud of the incredible work that WHO staff have done all over the world in the past 17 months to support countries to put these tools to work.” But the pandemic is far from over and the global response is at a critical phase. Stark contrasts still undermine progress, with vaccine inequity being one of the most urgent issues, posing a threat to ending the pandemic and to global recovery – over 75% of all vaccine doses have been administered in only 10 countries; the lowest income countries have administered less than ½ a percent of global doses. "This year's World Health Assembly will play a vital role in shaping the global health architecture of the future, and in strengthening WHO to fulfil its mission and mandate," added Dr Tedros. The Assembly’s agenda will focus on the health-related Sustainable Development Goals and WHO’s Triple Billion targets of one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage; one billion more better protected from health emergencies; and one billion more enjoying better health and well-being. Also read: Dhaka requests Delhi to send vaccine to Bangladesh soon WHO’s Results Report, will also be presented during the WHA. A high-level segment will take place on 24 May (10:00 -12:00 CEST) with participation from Heads of State and Governments and special guests, as well as an address by the WHO Director-General. The Assembly’s two Committees - Committee A, which deals with predominantly programme and budget matters and Committee, B which deals mainly with administrative, financial and legal matters – will then consider the individual agenda items. Highlights include: Three reports on Covid-19 response will be presented at the Assembly: the Health Emergencies Programme’s Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee (IOAC), the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and the Review Committee on the Functioning of the International Health Regulations (2005) during the Covid-19 Response.
WHO review panel highlights effective multilateralism in COVID-19 response
A latest interim report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response highlighted effective multilateralism in the preparation and response to the COVID-19 crisis, saying that the consequences of this pandemic remind the world of how important effective multilateralism is.