The 68th World Health Assembly was convened from 18-26 May 2015, in Geneva.
This year, the President of the World Health Assembly was India’s Union Health Minister, Mr. J P Nadda.
Main Resolutions passed:
New Global Malaria Strategy for 2016-2030 agreed upon:
The strategy aims to reduce the global disease burden by 40% by 2020, and by at least 90% by 2030. It also aims to eliminate malaria in at least 35 new countries by 2030.
It comprises three key elements:
- ensuring universal access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment;
- accelerating efforts towards elimination and attainment of malaria-free status;
- and strengthening malaria surveillance.
Agreements upon Polio, International Health Regulations, Yellow Fever, Surgical care
- Member states recommitted to the eradication of polio and the phased withdrawal of oral polio vaccines.
International Health Regulations:
- Delegates endorsed the recommendation of the International Health Regulations Review Committee to extend the deadline for implementation of the Regulations by all countries to 2016.
- The Regulations currently specify that travellers should renew Yellow Fever immunization every ten years.
- In 2013, WHO’s expert advisory group on immunization (SAGE) recommended that a single dose of yellow fever vaccine provides life-long immunity to the disease, making boosters unnecessary.
- Changes to the Regulations recognizing the adequacy of a single dose of the vaccine will come into force in June 2016.
Strengthening Surgical care:
- Delegates of the World Health Assembly agreed a resolution on strengthening emergency and essential surgical care and anaesthesia.
Reforms in emergency care:
- Delegates at the World Health Assembly made a series of decisions that give the WHO Secretariat the go-ahead to carry out structural reforms so it can prepare for and respond rapidly, flexibly and effectively to emergencies and disease outbreaks.
- These would be achieved by setting out clear and effective command and control mechanisms across all 3 levels of the Organization – headquarters, regional and country offices.
Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance:
Delegates at the World Health Assembly endorsed a global action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance – including antibiotic resistance, the most urgent drug resistance trend.
The plan sets out 5 objectives:
- improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance;
- strengthen surveillance and research;
- reduce the incidence of infection;
- optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines;
- ensure sustainable investment in countering antimicrobial resistance.
Through adoption of the global plan, governments all committed to have in place, by May 2017, a national action plan on antimicrobial resistance that is aligned with the global action plan. It needs to cover the use of antimicrobial medicines in animal health and agriculture, as well as for human health.
Delegates at the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to address the health impacts of air pollution – the world’s largest single environmental health risk.
Every year 4.3 million deaths occur from exposure to indoor air pollution and 3.7 million deaths are attributable to outdoor air pollution.
This was the first time the Health Assembly had debated the topic.
Strengthening Care for Epilepsy:
Delegates endorsed a resolution urging Member States to strengthen their ongoing efforts in providing care for people with epilepsy.
Although affordable treatment for epilepsy exists, up to 90% of people with the condition may not be properly diagnosed or treated in resource-poor settings.
Link to press release on Global Malaria Strategy:
Link to press release on polio, IHR, strengthening surgical care:
Link to press release on reforms in emergency response:
Link to press release on antimicrobial resistance:
Link to press release on air pollution, epilepsy:
Link to press release on the President of the WHA (Mr. J P Nadda):