Press Release WHA/1WHO TURNS 50
8 May 1998
51st WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY OPENS IN GENEVA
MONDAY, 11 MAY 1998
The World Health Assembly, the highest governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), will hold its 51st annual session at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 11 to 16 May 1998.
"This will be a landmark Assembly", says Dr Hiroshi Nakajima, WHO Director-General. "WHO is 50 years old this year. Member States will elect a new WHO Director-General. The Organization is launching a new global health policy for the 21st century which is complemented by our annual World Health Report focusing on "Life in the 21st century".
The delegates to the Assembly will debate WHO's fourth annual report on the world health status, the 1998 World Health Report "Life in the 21st century A vision for all". The Report reviews health trends during the last 50 years, assesses the present situation and provides an optimistic view of health in the next 25 years.
WHO's 50th anniversary will be officially observed on Thursday, 14 May. The centrepiece of celebration is a Forum for Heads of State or Government on the theme "Health for all in the 21st century". Among the expected participants in the Forum are: Mrs Ruth Dreifuss, Vice President of Switzerland, His Excellency Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, His Excellency Mamoon Abd El Gayoon, President of the Maldives, His Excellency Henri Konan Bédié, President of Côte d'Ivoire, and the Honourable Tofilau Eti Alesana, Prime Minister of Samoa. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Director-General will present "Health for All" medals to each of the Heads of State or Government in recognition of their contribution to the health of their peoples.
Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the United States of America, is also expected at the Assembly to receive the United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize for her "outstanding and distinguished contributions and achievements in the field of health and social welfare". Other prizewinners are: Mrs Roselyn Mokgantsho Mazibuko of South Africa, Dr Ahmed Abdul Qadr Al Ghassani of Oman, and Gondar College of Medical Sciences, Ethiopia.
Following a resolution adopted by the WHO Executive Board at its January session, the nomination of Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, for the post of Director-General of the World Health Organization will be submitted to the 51st World Health Assembly. The vote on the nomination is expected to take place on Wednesday, 13 May 1998. The five-year term of office starts on 21st July 1998.
The Assembly will have a heavy agenda to go through in its two Committees next week. Under discussion disease prevention and control, revision of international health regulations, review of the Constitution, implications of cloning in human health, and environmental matters.
The proposed new global health policy "Health for All in the 21st century", that Assembly delegates will consider, builds on the primary health care approach which has served as the cornerstone of the Health for All vision for the last twenty years. The new policy focuses on quality of life, equity in health and access to health services. It invites WHO Member States to make health central to human development and to ensure health systems that will meet the needs of the people. The document addresses the issue of globalization, calling for a strong combination of national and transnational actions in public health.
Delegates will also consider a World Health Declaration that underlines the need for collective commitment and action to achieve the vision of health for all in the 21st century.
For further information, journalists can contact Mr Valery Abramov, WHO, Geneva. Telephone (41 22) 791 2543. Fax (41 22) 791 4858.; E-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org
All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features as well as other information on this subject can be obtained on Internet on the WHO home page http://www.who.ch/