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Sixtieth World Health Assembly: Media opportunities

11 May 2007

The Sixtieth World Health Assembly (WHA) will take place from 14 to 23 May 2007 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. Issues to be discussed include: avian and pandemic influenza (developments, response and follow-up) and the application of the International Health Regulations; smallpox eradication: destruction of variola virus stocks; malaria, including proposal for establishment of Malaria Day; tuberculosis control: progress and long-term planning; prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases: implementation of the global strategy; better medicines for children; and progress in the rational use of medicines. The Health Assembly will consider draft resolutions recommended by the WHO Executive Board on these and other issues.

The agenda, the daily Journal and other WHA documents can be found at and are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Below is a list of agenda items and other events which may be of particular interest to journalists. Depending on the length of discussions, times and dates for agenda items will likely shift, so journalists should regularly consult the World Health Assembly Journal posted daily. All technical briefings are open to journalists.

Invited speakers

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway will address the Health Assembly on issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Mr Stoltenberg and the Norwegian Government have a particular commitment to MDG 4 and 5 (child and maternal health) and will outline how Norway is implementing this commitment. Mr Stoltenberg will also speak about UN reform as he recently co-chaired the Secretary General’s High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence.

Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, will also be addressing the Health Assembly. Ms Obaid has a long and distinguished career at the United Nations with a focus on development and the advancement of women. She has also been instrumental in efforts in the United Nations system to reform business practices and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of UN development support. She will speak about collaborative activities with WHO on maternal and child health and international global security.

Monday, 14 May

10:00 - 11:30: Opening of the Sixtieth World Health Assembly, Election of the President and other office bearers, and Adoption of the agenda Music from South Africa performed by Adrian Kevin More and Nonhlanhal Pretty Yende

14:30 - 17:30: Plenary Speakers

  • Chair of Executive Board
  • Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General
The General Debate in Plenary will continue during Tuesday and Wednesday morning

16:00 Committee A: Opening Avian and pandemic influenza:

  • Developments, response and follow-up
  • International Health Regulations

18:00: WHO Director-General reception at WHO restaurant (journalists welcome)

Tuesday, 15 May

9:00 - 11:30 Committee A:
Avian and pandemic influenza:

  • Developments, response and follow-up
  • International Health Regulations
  • Best practices for sharing influenza viruses and sequence data

11:30 - 12:15 Guest Speakers

  • Mr Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister, Norway
  • Ms Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA

Technical briefing: Avian Influenza virus sharing and vaccine
13:00 - 14:30, Room XII

  • Viroj Tangcharoensathien,Thailand
  • Doug Holtzman, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Dr Ali Jaffer Mohammad, Director General of Health Affairs, Oman
  • Dr David Heymann, Assistant Director-General, Communicable Diseases, WHO
  • Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Director, Initiative for Vaccine Research, WHO
  • Dr Keiji Fukuda, Coordinator, Global influenza Programme, WHO

Committee A:

  • Smallpox eradication: destruction of variola virus stocks
  • Control of leishmaniasis
  • Polio: mechanisms for management of potential risks to eradication

Media briefing: 17:00 - 18:00, Salle I
What: Roadmap to North-South consensus on health worker migration

  • Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights; Co-chair of the Health Worker Global Policy Advisory Council
  • Dr Francis Omaswa, Executive Director, Global Health Workforce Alliance
  • Dr Anders Nordström, Assistant Director-General, Health Systems and Services, WHO
  • Erik Solheim, Minister for International Development, Norway
  • Patricia Aragon Sto Tomas, Minister of Labor and Employment, the Philippines

Wednesday, 16 May

Committee A

  • Malaria, including proposal for establishment of Malaria Day

Committee B
  • Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan

Technical briefing: Global health security: Pandemic influenza and implementation of the International Health Regulations
13:00 - 14:30, Room XII

  • Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO
  • Mr Tony Clements, Minister of Health, Canada
  • Mr Alan Reilly, Deputy Chief Executive, Food Safety Authority, Ireland
  • Mr A.K. Rémi, Minister of Health, Côte d'Ivoire (TBC)
  • Dr David Heymann, Assistant Director-General, Communicable Diseases, WHO
  • Dr Maria Neira, Director, Protection of the Human Environment, WHO
  • Dr Shigeru Omi, Regional Director, WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific (TBC)
  • Dr Guenael Rodier, Director, International Health Regulations Coordination Programme, WHO
  • Dr Mike Ryan, Director, Department of Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response, WHO
  • Dr Jorgen Schlundt, Director, Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Diseases, WHO

Launch of an Initiative on yellow fever
18:00, Salle XXII (followed by a cocktail).

The meeting will describe the importance of the Yellow Fever Initiative in responding and managing a specific threat to global health security. Supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and led by WHO and UNICEF, it aims to reduce the risk of yellow fever in 12 endemic countries in Africa and will result in the vaccination of 48 million people in the coming years.

Thursday, 17 May

Committee A:

  • Proposed 2008-2009 programme budget
  • Evidence-based strategies and interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm
  • Prevention and control of non communicable diseases: implementation of global strategy

Committee B:

  • Administrative and financial issues

Technical briefing: Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual property
13:00 - 14:30, Room XII

  • Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO
  • Dr Howard Zucker, Assistant Director-General, Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals, WHO
  • Mr Peter Oldham, Chair, IGWG-PHI (Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property)
  • Dr Elil Renganathan, Executive Secretary, PHI (Secretariat on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property)

Members of the IGW
  • Mr P. Oldham, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Canada, Geneva
  • Mr B. Wijnberg, Senior Policy Adviser, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Netherlands
  • Dr H. Gashut, Counsellor, Permanent Mission Libya, Geneva
  • Dr A.E.O. Ogwell, Head, Office for International Health Relations, Ministry of Health, Kenya
  • Mr Jaya Ratnam, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Singapore, Geneva
  • Mr N. Dayal, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India

Plenary: Awards: 17:00

  • A.T. Shousha Foundation Prize
  • Leon Bernard Foundation
  • Ihsan Dogramaci Family Health Foundation Prize
  • Sasakawa Health Prize
  • United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize

Friday, 18 May
Committee A:

  • Oral health: Action plan
  • Working towards universal coverage of maternal, newborn and child health interventions
  • Health promotion in a globalized world

Committee B:

  • Collaboration with the United Nations system and with other international organizations
  • WHO's role and responsibilities in health research
  • Progress in the rational use of medicines
  • Better medicines for children

Technical briefing: Managing the international migration of health workers
13:00 - 14:30, Room XII

  • Dr Anders Nordström, Assistant Director-General, Health Systems and Services, WHO
  • Dr Tim Evans, WHO Assistant Director-General, Information, Evidence and Research
  • Dr Francis Omaswa, Executive Secretary, Global Health Workforce Alliance
  • Erik Solheim, Minister for International Development, Norway
  • Patricia Aragon Sto Tomas, Minister of Labour and Employment, the Philippines
  • Heads of delegation from Portugal and Brazil (TBC)

Saturday, 19 May

9:00 - 13:00
Committee A:

  • Integrating gender analysis and action into the work of WHO

Monday, 21 May:

Committee A:

  • Workers health: draft global plan of action
  • Health systems: emergency care

Committee B:

  • Health technologies
  • Public health, innovation and intellectual property

Technical briefing: WHO Global Action Plan Against Cancer
13:00 - 14:30, Room XII

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. From a total of 58 million deaths worldwide in 2005, cancer accounted for 7.6 million (or 13%) of all deaths. More than 70% of all cancer deaths in 2005 occurred in low and middle income countries. The purpose of the briefing is to review with Member States the current and expected global cancer burden, and WHO activities to better support Member States in their fight against cancer.

  • Professor Mike Chirenje, Zimbabwe
  • Dr Andrej Bručan, Minister of Health, Slovenia
  • Dr Mohamed- Cheikh Biadillah, Minister of Health, Morocco (TBC)
  • Professor Franco Cavalli, President of the International Union Against Cancer
  • Dr Luís Gomes Sambo, Regional Director, WHO/AFRO
  • Dr Catherine Le Gales-Camus, Assistant Director-General, Noncommunicable diseases and Mental Health, WHO
  • Dr Andreas Ullrich and Dr Richard Lessard, cancer control medical officers, WHO

Discussion on "Health Protection from Climate Change"
18:00 - 19:30, Room XII

The discussion will summarize the accumulating evidence of climate change as an emerging threat to global public health, and outline the necessary responses. Presentations by international experts on the issue, and by delegates of some of the most vulnerable countries will be made. The event will also introduce a new WHO strategic initiative on "Public health protection from climate change", designed to reduce vulnerability to climate change, while also bringing immediate health gains.

  • Ms Susanne Weber-Mosdorf, Assistant Director-General, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments, WHO
  • Dr Bettina Menne, Global change and health, WHO European office
  • Dr Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Scientist, Global environmental change and health, WHO
  • Dr Carlos Corvalán, Coordinator, Interventions for healthy environments, WHO
  • Dr Solomon Nzioka, consultant to WHO/UNDP Global Environment Facility project (TBC)
  • Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, Regional Director, South East Asian Region, WHO
  • Dr Maria Neira, Director, Public Health and Environment, WHO

Tuesday, 22 May

12:00 - 12:30:
Mrs Reiko Kaburaki Lee, widow of the late Director-General Lee Jong-wook, will be making a presentation on her work with Socios en Salud in Lima, Peru.

Committee A:

  • Strengthening of health information systems

Committee B: Progress reports:
  • Improving the containment of antimicrobial resistance; improving AIDS coordination among multilateral institutions; world report on violence and health; promotion of road safety and traffic- injury prevention; disability, including prevention, management and rehabilitation; cancer prevention and control; sustaining the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders; strengthening active and healthy ageing; emergency preparedness and response; reducing global measles mortality; health metrics network

Technical briefing: 20th Anniversary of Safe Motherhood Initiative
13:00 - 14:30, Room XII

In the last 20 years, the issue of safe motherhood has evolved from a neglected issue to an essential and integrated element of the women’s health agenda. The event that set this change in motion was a landmark worldwide movement launched in 1987—the Safe Motherhood Initiative. Governments are committed to achieving MDG 5 and would need all the support. UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, World and Regional Banks, major donors, NGOs and Civil Societies all needs to work together in helping countries to achieve their goals and improve maternal and newborn health and survival.

  • Dr Dorothy Shaw, President, International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO)
  • Dr Kathy Herschderfer, Executive Secretary, International Confederation of Midwives (ICM)
  • Ms Jill Sheffield, Executive President, Family Care International (FCI)
  • Ministers of Health: Kenya, Lao, Bolivia, Ireland, Germany, Spain (TBC)
  • Member of Parliaments: Sally Keeble, MP, UK and Chantal Gill'Ard, MP, The Netherlands
  • Dr Monir Islam, Director, Department of Making Pregnancy Safer, WHO

Wednesday, 23 May

Closure of the Health Assembly
Closing Speech, President of the Sixtieth Health Assembly
Closing speech, Dr Margaret Chan, Director- General, WHO

Journalists may expect a closing news release at around 13:00.

For more information contact:

WHO Department of Communications, Geneva

Fadéla Chaib
Phone: +41 22 791 32 28
Mobile: +41 79 475 5556

Christine McNab
Phone: +41 22 791 4688
Mobile: +41 79 254 6815

Iain Simpson
Phone: +41 22 791 32 15
Mobile: +41 79 475 5534