After one year in office, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will open the Seventy-First World Health Assembly next week in Geneva with an ambitious agenda for change that aims to save 29 million lives by 2023.
Ministers of Health and other delegates from WHO’s 194 Member States will meet to discuss a range of issues, including the 13th General Programme of Work, which is WHO’s 5-year strategic plan to help countries meet the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"This is a pivotal health Assembly. On the occasion of WHO’s 70th anniversary, we are celebrating 7 decades of public health progress that have added 25 years to global life expectancy, saved millions of children’s lives, and made huge inroads into eradicating deadly diseases such as smallpox and, soon, polio," said Dr Tedros.
"But the latest edition of the World Health Statistics, published yesterday, shows just how far we still have to go. Too many people are still dying of preventable diseases, too many people are being pushed into poverty to pay for health care out of their own pockets and too many people are unable to get the health services they need. This is unacceptable," he added.
Next week’s Health Assembly will open against the backdrop of a new outbreak of Ebola in central Africa, a stark reminder that global health risks can erupt at any time and that fragile health systems in any country pose a risk for the rest of the world.
The WHO General Programme of Work, designed to address these challenges and accelerate progress towards the SDGs, is the result of 12 months of intensive discussion with countries, experts and partners, and centres on the “triple billion” targets:
* 1 billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage
* 1 billion more people better protected from health emergencies
* 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.
"We are transforming how we work to achieve our vision of a world in which health is a right for all. We are changing the way we do business," Dr Tedros said.
Other topics that will be covered at this year’s World Health Assembly include WHO’s work in health emergencies, polio, physical activity, vaccines, the global snakebite burden and rheumatic heart disease.
The World Health Statistics 2018, WHO’s annual snapshot of the state of the world’s health, highlights that while remarkable progress towards the SDGs has been made in some areas, in other areas progress has stalled and the gains that have been made could easily be lost. The latest data available shows that:
* Less than half the people in the world today get all of the health services they need.
* In 2010, almost 100 million people were pushed into extreme poverty because they had to pay for health services out of their own pockets.
* 13 million people die every year before the age of 70 from cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer – most in low and middle-income countries.
Every day in 2016, 15 000 children died before reaching their fifth birthday.
Source: The WHO
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