Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

63rd WHA: "Agreements as a gift to public health"

63rd WHA: "Agreements as a gift to public health"

Geneva, 21 May 2010. The agenda of this year's World Health Assembly included, among other items, the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005); the global strategy and plan of action regarding public health, innovation and intellectual property; the monitoring of the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals; and the draft global code of practice on international recruitment of health personnel.

As an organization in official relations with WHO, the Medicus Mundi International Network was invited to appoint representatives to the Assembly and to make statements under items concerning technical issues.

The MMI Network focused its joint activities on advocacy related to the WHO code of practice on international recruitment of health personnel - which was finally adopted by the Assembly.  We organized, together with other civil society organizations, a side event on the implementation and monitoring of the code (see documentation).

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Closing remarks by Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization


Hard work can bring a big payback, as long as it does not delay progress or disrupt the strong spirit of international cooperation for better health that has been growing in recent years.

We have just seen two examples, shall I say hot off the press, of this spirit of collaboration and consensus-seeking. Thank you for finding a way forward on the issues of research and development financing, and substandard, spurious, falsely-labelled, falsified, counterfeit medical products.

You reached agreement on some very important items that are a real gift to public health, everywhere. Thanks to some all-night efforts, we now have a code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel.

In addition, you have given public health a policy instrument and guidance for tackling one of the world’s fastest growing and most alarming health problems. This is the rise of chronic noncommunicable diseases, like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease.

Many of these diseases develop slowly, but lifestyle changes that increase the risk are taking place with a stunning speed and sweep. We know that the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets are two of the four risk factors for these diseases.

As several of you noted, the global strategy for reducing the harmful use of alcohol is a true breakthrough. This strategy gives you a large and flexible menu of evidence-based policy options for addressing a problem that damages health in rich and poor countries alike. The strategy sends a powerful message: countries are willing to work together to take a tough stand against the harmful use of alcohol.

Your resolution on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children responds to an astonishing statistic. This is a world in which some 43 million pre-school children are obese or overweight. Think of what this means in terms of life-long risks to their health. Think about the life-long demands for care at a time when most health systems are already overburdened, underfunded, and dangerously understaffed.

(Extract from WHO website)

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Civil society involvement in the Assembly was difficult - even more difficult than in previous yeas. Certainly an issue to be followed up soon.

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World Health Assembly documentation:

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