In Geneva, Switzerland, began the 75th World Health Assembly. It will focus on key issues such as the response to the Covid-19 pandemic or the global health and peace initiative.
Covid-19 remains one the main priorities of this year’s WHA. This was the first WHA held in Geneva, attended by delegates, since the outbreak of pandemic over two years ago.
Although WHO data indicate that Covid-19 reported cases have decreased significantly since January’s Omicron wave peak and that deaths are at their lowest level since March 2020, the WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed Sunday in his speech to the opening ceremony of the WHA that the pandemic has not ended and that “it’s still not over anywhere, until it’s gone everywhere”.
He urged all countries to achieve the 70% vaccination coverage within the shortest time possible. Prioritisation should be given to all health workers, over-60s, and anyone at higher risk.
He said that all countries should keep Covid surveillance and sequence, and be ready to reintroduce or adjust public health and other social measures as needed. It is important that countries restore health services as quickly as possible and work with communities to build trust.
He said that “the pandemic isn’t the only crisis in the world” and echoed the theme of the 75th WHA, “Health for Peace and Peace for Health.” He also announced that the conference agenda would include complex humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and Somalia, South Sudan and Syria, as well as Yemen, Ukraine, and Yemen.
“More than pandemics,” war shakes and destroys the foundations upon which once stable societies were built. It leaves whole communities without essential health services, putting children at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. He regretted that war, hunger, and disease were old friends.”
WHO has confirmed 373 attacks against health personnel and facilities in 14 countries and territories this year. The attacks claimed the lives and injuries of 154 patients and health workers, and 153 others. “Attacks against health workers and health institutions are a violation of international humanitarian law. Tedros stated that they are an attack on the rights to health.
The WHA, which will last seven days, is expected to have the most topics and resolutions. It also includes the appointment a new WHO director general for the next five-years. At the moment, Tedros, who is still in office as chief Tedros of WHO, is the only candidate.