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Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly: daily notes on proceedings

Notes: Monday, 27 May 2013 Progress reports

Strengthening noncommunicable disease policies to promote active ageing

Item 18.A - Resolution WHA65.3

As required under resolution WHA65.3, the Secretariat reported on recent and ongoing activities to support healthy ageing and the care of older persons. These include a major WHO study of the health of more than 90 000 older people in 11 countries that will be used to develop evidence based policy; identification of evidence-based strategies on how to mainstream actions for healthy ageing; and the continued expansion of the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. The Secretariat will release a Global Report on Ageing and Health in 2015.

Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol

Item 18.B - Resolution WHA63.13

Delegates welcomed the progress report on the 2010 global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol under Resolution WHA63.13. An increasing number of countries are developing or reformulating national alcohol policies and progress has been made in the collection and use of national data. WHO has established mechanisms to strengthen collaboration between Member States and the Secretariat in the implementation of the global strategy. The Secretariat reiterated its commitment to provide all possible technical assistance to Member States on reducing the harmful use of alcohol.

Sustaining the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders

Item 18.C - Resolution WHA60.21

Delegates took note of the progress report on the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders and welcomed the progress made under Resolution WHA60.21. Universal salt iodization remains WHO’s preferred strategy for the control of iodine deficiency disorders. The report calls on countries to continue to recognize the importance of iodized salt for preventing deficiency disorders whilst they work to reduce total salt intake to reduce blood pressure. The recently created International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) Global Network will promote collaboration across public and private sectors to accelerate the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders.

Strengthening national health emergency and disaster management capacities and the resilience of health systems

Item 18.D - Resolution WHA64.10

The World Health Assembly took note of the WHO Secretariat’s Progress Report on ‘Strengthening national health emergency and disaster management capacities and the resilience of health systems’. The delegates also discussed the addendum to the Progress Report, which provided an overview of WHO’s work in emergency response during the period May 2012 to April 2013. The addendum gave special emphasis to the three humanitarian events requiring the most substantive support through WHO country offices: Central African Republic, Mali and Syrian Arab Republic.

The Assembly expressed satisfaction with WHO's work in emergencies attributing recent progress to effective implementation of the Emergency Response Framework. The delegates voiced their concerns regarding the health situation in conflict areas. In particular they called on all parties involved in conflict to respect and protect the neutrality of health workers and health facilities and to ensure humanitarian access to populations in need. The Assembly requested WHO to continue responding to health needs in emergencies and report on WHO's emergency activities to WHO governing bodies on an annual basis.

Climate change and health

Item 18.E - Resolution EB124.R5

Delegates highlighted the many ways in which climate change affects health, through increasing risks of weather-related extremes, to impacts on both communicable and non-communicable diseases. They commended WHO’s role in international negotiations, technical partnerships with organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization, and particularly the expansion of support for health in national adaptation planning, now covering over 30 countries. Member States called on WHO to renew and revise their workplan on climate change to cover the period 2014-2019, and to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, to work simultaneously on climate change and the health impacts of air pollution.

Eradication of dracunculiasis

Item 18.F - Resolution WHA64.16

Delegates noted the Secretariat’s annual progress report on the eradication of dracunculiasis (under Resolution WHA64.16), which indicated a 49% fall in the number of new cases in 2012 (to 542). The challenge for dracunculiasis eradication remains the interruption of transmission in the four countries in which the disease remains endemic: Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, South Sudan. They noted the need for countries in the pre-certification stage to strengthen their surveillance to detect and contain any imported case of dracunculiasis.

Smallpox eradication: destruction of the variola virus stocks

Item 18.G - Resolution WHA60.1

The resolution adopted at the Sixtieth World Health Assembly, re-affirming that remaining stocks be destroyed once research into biosafety and biosecurity has been concluded, requires the Secretariat to present an annual progress report to the Health Assembly. Delegates noted this year’s report: substantive discussions on the issue are expected at next year’s Health Assembly.

Patient safety

Item 18.H - Resolution WHA55.18

Member States of WHO noted the report on patient safety (Resolution WHA55.18). WHO’s new five-year strategy on patient safety aims to provide leadership in this area by harnessing knowledge, expertise and innovation and by engaging health care systems, civil society and health experts around the world to make health care safer.

Priorities for the next five years include: developing tools and best practices for primary care; improving related education and training to health workers to enhance the quality and safety of health services; expanding partnerships in Africa and beyond; and strengthening community and patient involvement. Activities are being coordinated across the Organization within broader health systems strengthening work towards universal health coverage. Key activities include work on safety of medications and medical devices, blood safety and human resources for health, and a major initiative on injection safety, which will be launched later in 2013.

Drinking-water, sanitation and health

Item 18.I - Resolution WHA64.24

In their review of progress on Resolution WHA64.24 (2011) “Drinking-Water, Sanitation and Health”, delegates commended the excellent work of WHO, recognizing the leading role WHO continues to play with respect to norms and monitoring of water and sanitation, including the post 2015 process. WHO’s work to integrate water and sanitation with other health interventions, such as the WHO/UNICEF Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) was welcomed and there was recognition that this integrated approach needs to be broadened.

Delegates also underlined the need take urgent action to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 7 target for sanitation – one of the most off-track MDG targets. Advancing this target would result significant reductions in diarrhoeal disease, including cholera. WHO strongly supports the UN Deputy Secretary-General’s call to action on sanitation.

Workers' health: global plan of action

Item 18.J - Resolution WHA60.26

Countries, such as Australia, Indonesia, Italy, Liberia (on behalf of all African countries), Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, as well as the International Labour Organization, expressed appreciation with the action taken by WHO to protect and promote the health of workers.

They highlighted the need to protect the health of workers affected by globalization and changing free markets through national action plans and legislation for occupational health and by addressing priority occupational noncommunicable diseases such as occupational cancer and chronic respiratory diseases. Particular concern was expressed about asbestos-related diseases, bearing in mind that all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, cause cancer and that it is very difficult to control exposure to asbestos.”

Strategy for integrating gender analysis and actions into the work of WHO

Item 18.K - Resolution WHA60.25

Delegates noted the report (under Resolution WHA60.25) on progress on the strategy for integrating gender analysis and actions into the work of WHO. Work is ongoing in four key areas: building WHO’s capacity for gender analysis and planning; bringing gender into the mainstream of WHO’s management; promoting the use of sex-disaggregated data and gender analysis; and establishing accountability linked to equity and human rights.

Rational use of medicines

Item 18.L - Resolution WHA60.16

Delegates reviewed the progress in the Secretariat's work with Member States, in collaboration with international, regional and national partners, to promote the rational use of medicines. Irrational use is a problem in all countries and results in poor health outcomes, wastage of scarce resources, and adverse drug reactions. Member States welcomed WHO activities including technical assistance and guidance to countries in this area.

Member States urged the WHO to further strengthen the activities on rational use of medicines, especially for NCDs and on antibiotics to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR), to provide technical assistance to countries as needed, to make data on AMR and antibiotics consumption available, and to support countries in rational selection of medicines using health technology assessment approaches.

Member states requested to take AMR as a substantive issue in 2014 governing bodies discussions and asked the Secretariat to report on WHO's work in relation to WHA resolution 58.27 to the Executive Board in January 2014. It was also proposed to integrate into the new global R&D observatory a specific module on AMR surveillance and R&D on antibiotics.