WHO Headquarters, Geneva

health matters: A meeting in progress in the Executive Board Room at WHO Headquarters, Geneva.

More than 30 resolutions and decisions were adopted at this year’s World Health Assembly in different areas of public health: decisions on diabetes, disabilities, ending violence against children, eye care, HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, local production of medicines, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, noncommunicable diseases, nursing and midwifery, oral health, social determinants of health and strategic directions for the health and care workforce.

In his closing remarks, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reminded delegates that the theme of this Assembly was “Ending this pandemic, preventing the next: building together a healthier, safer and fairer world”.

“We’re very encouraged that cases and deaths are continuing to decline globally, but it would be a monumental error for any country to think the danger has passed,” said Dr Tedros urging countries to commit to supporting the targets to achieve vaccination of at least ten per cent of the population of all countries by the end of September, and at least 30 per cent by the end of the year.

“One day – hopefully soon – the pandemic will be behind us but we will still face the same vulnerabilities that allowed a small outbreak to become a global pandemic.

“That’s why the one recommendation that I believe will do most to strengthen both WHO and global health security is the recommendation for a treaty on pandemic preparedness and response.”

Dr Tedros echoed the message that a strong WHO needs to be properly financed as it has been amplified by all the expert reviews that reported to this Assembly. Dr Tedros urged Member States to seize this pivotal moment and chart a course to a sustainable financial model.

The Assembly focused

on following issues:

Strengthening WHO preparedness for and response to health emergencies

Covid-19 and other major disease outbreaks, as well as continuing humanitarian situations, highlight the need for a stronger collective and coordinated approach to preparedness and response to health emergencies.

Member States agreed to meet again in November, at a special session of the World Health Assembly, to consider developing a WHO global agreement.

“We need a generational commitment that outlives budgetary cycles, election cycles and media cycles, that creates an overarching framework for connecting the political, financial and technical mechanisms needed for strengthening global health security,” he said. Such a treaty would “foster improved sharing, trust and accountability, and provide the solid foundation on which to build other mechanisms for global health security”.

Member States also agreed on a Resolution reaffirming WHO’s role as the directing and coordinating authority in health during emergencies and beyond, and to aid governments towards achieving resilient health systems and universal health coverage.

The Resolution provides recommendations to WHO to strengthen current and future work notably via convening a Member States’ Working Group on Strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies, open to all Member States, to review recommendations from the various reports received at this Assembly. The Working Group is tasked with reporting to next year’s Assembly.

The Resolution calls on Member States to provide WHO with sustainable financing, while continuing their response to the pandemic and strengthening preparedness capacities, including strengthening their workforce, research activities, surveillance systems, while adopting a One Health Approach; while continuing to work in a spirit of global cooperation, sharing reliable information, countering infodemics and stigmatization; and ensuring response efforts do not exacerbate other health challenges.

The Director-General thanked Member States for approving this “historic resolution,” and their support for a strengthened WHO. “The reports of the IPPPR, the IHR Review Committee and the IOAC are unanimous in their view that the world needs a stronger WHO at the centre of the global health architecture…As the reports all say and many Member States have emphasised, a paradigm shift in the quantity and quality of funding for the Secretariat is a key issue.”

Mental health during public health emergencies

Countries are increasingly showing greater recognition of the importance of this area. For example, during the pandemic, the number of countries with a functioning multisectoral mental health and psychosocial support coordination platform in humanitarian emergencies has doubled while 90 per cent of Member States responding to a WHO survey in early 2021 reported that mental health and psychosocial support were included in their Covid-19 response plans.

In 2020, a wide range of resources were developed in many languages by WHO in collaboration with partners, including: a stress management guide for the general public; a guide for Covid-19 responders on basic psychosocial skills; and a toolkit to help older adults maintain mental well-being. In addition, WHO has collaborated on the elaboration of the first-ever programme for rapid deployment of experts in mental health and psychosocial support during public health and humanitarian emergencies. Launched in January 2020, more than 20 deployments have been undertaken to date.

Delegates to the World Health Assembly endorsed the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030, including the plan’s updated implementation options and indicators. For the first time, the plan includes an indicator on preparedness for providing mental health and psychosocial support during emergencies.

who.int

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

Walking across the agricultural fields of Cumuto South, Barrackpore, the grass was still wet with dew at seven o’clock in the morning. The earth was squelchy and crunchy to the footstep. Crunch, crunch, crack, oh no! This was not stable soil underfoot at all.

There should be more platforms that encourage female empowerment and for the voices of girls and young women to be heard. With this in mind, Girl Be Heard (GBH) has created a programme which utilises storytelling, theatre and arts and other socially conscious initiatives to create change.

Apple has unveiled new tools and technologies designed to help developers create more engaging app experiences and make it even easier to build high-quality apps.

PEOPLE are finding it difficult to cope with the pandemic, far more so for parents of children with special needs, says Kelvin Thomas. The husband, father and graphic artist ought to know. Thomas and his wife Patricia are the parents of 12-year-old Kinaya-Joy who was diagnosed with Down syndrome and autism. Kinaya-Joy is non-verbal and also in remission from leukaemia. Due to the cancer treatment she received, Kinaya-Joy’s oesophagus has been reduced to three millimetres which means that she can choke on something as small as a rice grain, therefore her parents must purée all her meals.

“YOU give me love like an ocean... deep and wide,” sings gospel artist Abigail Roberts in her latest single “Deep and Wide” which was produced by Jabari Bowman of JSB Productions.

GARNER. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Stephon Clark. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Daunte Wright.

Those names punctuate an infamous bloody timeline of unarmed black people killed by American police in the past seven years. And those are just the high-profile cases picked up by international media.