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Geneva: Elizabeth Vadakekara and Celine attended the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva from May 19- 22. It was the first time for Celine to attend a UN meeting in Geneva, while Elizabeth is an Ngo health committee  member who attends regularly since the last few years.       “This has been an intense Health Assembly, with a record-breaking number of agenda items, documents and resolutions, and nearly 3,500 delegates”  “This is a reflection of the growing number of complexity of health issues, and your deep interest in addressing them” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director-General.  Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation was one of the key note speakers. She spoke passionately about the health of women and children. Following are some of the highlights of the resolutions (total 20) passed in this Assembly:

Access to essential medicines: WHO’s strategy to help countries improve access to essential medicines was approved. Key principles include selecting a limited range of medicines on the basis of best evidence available, efficient procurement, affordable prices, effective distribution systems and rational use. The WHO Essential medicines list was recognized as a valuable tool that enables countries to identify a core set of medicines which need to be available to provide quality medical care.

Renewed commitment towards universal health coverage: Emphasis on universal health coverage was one of the high lights of the Assembly. Rooted in the Right to health approach, the Recife Declaration (of 2013) recognizes the centrality of human resources for health in the drive towards universal health coverage. It commits governments to creating the conditions for the inclusive development and reaffirms the role of WHO Global code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personal as a guide for action to strengthen the health work force and health systems.

Regulatory system strengthening: The WHA mandated WHO, in cooperation with national regulators to continue its important role globally in medicines regulations through establishing necessary norms and standards supporting regulatory capacity-building and strengthening safety monitoring programmes .

Addressing the global challenge of Violence against women and girls: Nearly 1.4 million people lose their lives to violence globally each year. One in three women experience physical and/or sexual violence at least once in her life. WHO will develop a global plan of action to strengthen the role of national health systems within a multi-sectoral respose to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and children.

New born Health: The first –ever global plan to end preventable newborn deaths and stillbirths by 2035 calls for all countries to aim for fewer than 10 new born death /1000 live birth and less than 10 still births /1000 total birth by 2015. Every year almost 3 million babies die in the first month of life and 2.6 million babies are still born. Most of this death could be prevented by cost –effective interventions.

Antimicrobial drug resistance: WHO will develop a draft global action plan to combat antimicrobial resistance including antibiotic resistance for presentation to the WHA for approval next year.

Open Working Group: OWG 12 (June 16 – 20) to comment on the “Zero draft” by the co-chairs on the focus areas and to formulate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) and targets to be presented in the Sept GA.

UNDPI Annual Conference: The UN Department of Public Information will hold its 65th conference from August 27-29in NY. It will provide an opportunity for civil society, international networks and activists to develop an “Action Agenda” to mobilize messaging, advocacy strategies, for the intergovernmental negotiations for the beginning of the 69th General Assembly for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, in Sept 2015.

Celine Paramundayil.

       Wish to attend?      Contact: celine@mmsmission.net