The assembly itself!

We have provided you with constant feedback on what work IFMSA has been doing at the World Health Assembly. And maybe not so much about what has been going on in the assembly itself. Following is a short presentation on what the assembly itself has been discussing and worlds health leaders has agreed on towards achivieving health for all.

At the Health Assembly two main types of meeting are held, each with a different purpose:

  • Committees meet to debate technical and health matters (Committee A), and financial and management issues (Committee B), and approve the texts of resolutions, which are then submitted to the plenary meeting.
  • Plenary is the meeting of all delegates to the World Health Assembly. The Health Assembly meets in plenary several times in order to listen to reports and adopt the resolutions transmitted by the committees. The Director-General and Member States also address the delegates at the plenary.

In addition, technical briefings are organized separately on specific public health topics to present new developments in the area, provide a forum for debate and to allow for information sharing.

The assembly opened with remarks pointing to tremendous achievements in recent years, and the need to remain vigilant and committed to reaching our targets for healthier communities worldwide. The following day The Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Bill Gates, Wearing a lapel-pin stamped “END POLIO NOW,” he renewed his commitment to fighting disease. After the speeches  Japanese and WHO experts briefed Member States on radiation and public health issues, at both the national and international level, following the accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

The Director-General opened debates on WHO reform, the largest in it’s 63 year history, by affirming change is imperative for “the outdated management structures and approaches that threaten to hold us back, and make WHO less influential than it deserves to be. Member States responded enthusiastically to the reform proposal and urged Dr Chan to take strong leadership to turn the plan into reality.

During the following days the discussions on future of financing for WHO continued.

On wednesday the main topic was NCDs (Non-communicable diseases) The technical briefings  conference room overflowed as delegates and NGOs discussed this serious matter that contribute to more than 60 percent of deaths worldwide. The day after Committee A agreed on a framework for pandemic influenza preparedness, the culmination of four years of negotiation. The framework will, for example, improve influenza virus sharing and access to vaccines. Member States agreed the framework lays the groundwork for better preparedness and better access to tools and knowledge. The next phase is to ensure the implementation of the agreement. The tecnichal briefing was on promoting women’s and children’s health. The UN Commission for Information and Accountability presented there report. The briefing was attended by hundreds.

Friday was a very eventful day were many important topics was discussed such as Global Immunization Vision and StrategyMaternal, infant and young child nutrition, Global Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel, Strengthening health systems. 

As the IFMSA delegation attended a workshop orginazed by Global Fund on saturday, the member states unanimously approved a resolution on the preparations for the United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases being held this September. The Assembly also discussed the report on improving access to quality and affordable medical products from the working group on substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit medical products.

This was just a small overwiev of the main activities at the assembly, the IFMSA team was almost always present at the pleanry sessions and the technichal briefings. We made several interventions that higlighted our position in some of the issues.

There is still some days left and we will try to keep you involved!

All the best

Usman A. Mushtaq and IFMSAs WHA team

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