The 73rd World Health Assembly, the highest governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), resumes its work on Monday, November 9th.
The sessions are held annually, usually in May, and are attended by delegates from all 194 WHO member countries. The main function of the assembly is to determine the global political directions of the organization’s work, and to develop joint decisions.
This year, the first part of the session was held in Geneva on May 18-19 via teleconference. The Turkmen side was represented by the Deputy Minister of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan and the Permanent Representative of Turkmenistan to the UN Office in Geneva. Speaking during the event, they talked about the activities of the health care system in the country, its consistent improvement, taking into account international standards, emerging challenges and threats.
Two days of discussions in May provided an opportunity to focus on the coronavirus issue, but this time was not enough to address other pressing health issues. Therefore, it was decided to “suspend the assembly and resume it later during 2020”.
Following the meeting, the WHO member countries by consensus approved the resolution “Response to COVID-19”. The resolution notes WHO’s key role in preparing and coordinating a global response to the pandemic. The priority was given to ensuring universal, equitable and timely access to quality drugs against infection, equitable distribution of effective medicines and technologies.
During the session, WHO Member States demonstrated solidarity and willingness to work together to combat the health crisis and its aftermath. The Forum was held in a constructive manner, which demonstrated the commitment of the countries of the world community to cooperation in the face of a common misfortune that claimed many lives and caused severe socio-economic consequences.
The Assembly instructed the Director-General of WHO to begin a “process of impartial, independent and comprehensive assessment” of WHO’s response to the pandemic “as soon as possible”.
A statement issued in Geneva ahead of the renewed forum highlighted the importance of keeping humankind prepared for urgent health situations. “We have seen over the past year that countries with robust health infrastructures for emergency preparedness have been able to act quickly to contain and control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” the organization said.
All countries are called on to “give priority at the highest political level” to better preparedness for emergencies, to ensure adequate remuneration for health professionals and to enhance the role of local health workers. According to the WHO, it should “ensure that all countries are better equipped to detect and respond to COVID-19 and other dangerous infectious diseases.” The organization believes that the global community is able to defeat COVID-19 through the power of science and solidarity.
The resuming Assembly is called upon to reaffirm that the global community will not back down on key health challenges, including immunization, improving the health of the elderly, and fighting tuberculosis and influenza. The forum will discuss a 10-year plan to combat “neglected” tropical diseases, as well as the problem of meningitis, epilepsy and other neurological disorders, nutrition issues for children and mothers.