22 May 2017

70th World Health Assembly: Live Update

Rolling summary of events surrounding the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA). For immediate updates please follow @UICC @NCDAlliance #WHA70 on Twitter.

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Tuesday 30 May - Geneva, Switzerland: 14h30 We understand that the updated cancer resolution is due to be discussed in Committee B this afternoon, you can tune into the discussions here or check out @UICC for highlights from the discussion on Twitter. 

14h00: Member States adopted the resolution A70/27 on preparations for the 2018 High Level Meeting on NCDs, which includes the proposed update to Appendix 3 of the WHO Global Action Plan on NCDs, recognising the cost-effectiveness of the evidence-based policy options listed. Read the resolution and updated appendix 3 here

Monday 29 May - Geneva, Switzerland: 11h30 This morning, Member States continued discussions on the proposed update to Appendix 3 (a list of cost-effective policy options for the prevention and control of NCDs) of the WHO Global Action Plan on NCDs. Whilst a majority of Member States were supportive of the update, a small number were unable to endorse the proposed policy interventions for addressing unhealthy diet, specifically to "reduce sugar consumption through effective taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages."  Discussion of this agenda item was suspended at 11am, to allow for further consultations on the text to take place in a smaller drafting group.  

Thursday 25 May – Geneva, Switzerland: 17h15 The updated cancer resolution text is now available! Check out the updated text here. UICC will be working with our members to persuade as many member states as possible to co-sponsor the resolution once it comes up for discussion on Monday 29 or Tuesday 30. Any questions about how to get involved? E-mail the advocacy team at 

10:00 This morning the WHO General Coordination Mechanism on NCDs (GCM) held an informal breakfast session on how the GCM adds value, and challenges ahead on the road to 2025. Participants discussed the value of engaging different partners and sectors, including groups working on maternal and child health, to meet the targets of the Global Action Plan on NCDs and the sustainable development goals. In particular, there were calls to boost the technical support and high-level coordination available, and a particular emphasis was put on engaging youth groups and people living with NCDs to drive forward positive change. 

Wednesday 24 May – Geneva, Switzerland: 20h00 This evening members of the team attended an event on improving access and affordability of cancer medicines. Participants expressed optimism that the newly appointed Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus would follow the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, given his praise for the report in his press conference. When discussing the upcoming cancer resolution, a number of speakers and participants welcomed suggestions for the WHO to explore strategies to improve access to cancer medicines.

12h30 - UICC attended an official side event on promoting intersectoral action to invest in health and social workforces, following the publication of a report by WHO of the same name. The discussed was moderated by Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet, who emphasised the importance of decent jobs and inclusive economic growth if we are to meet the demand for healthcare workers globally.

Key points from the discussion were that health is not a sector, but an economy, and that global health does not exist without individual health security. An adequately trained workforce underpins all health systems, and as part of this the International Council of Nurses stressed “Use us, don’t ignore us”.

At the same time members of the team also attended a technical briefing on reaching everyone, everywhere with life-saving vaccines. Panellists from WHO, Angola, India and others shared their experiences and lessons learned in the roll-out of vaccine programmes across different countries and regions, and identified key mechanisms for success such as the PAHO revolving fund, which reduced the price of vaccines through joint procurement.

In discussions on improving vaccine coverage, the representative of the Ministry of Health of Denmark highlighted a two-year campaign to bring HPV immunisation rates amongs women aged 15-30 back up to 90%, following public misinformation. 

Also a lunchtime UICC attended an event organised by the delegations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) on building health care systems for the future. Speakers emphasised that training for primary health care workers is a priority in BRICS to provide safe local health services that are people-centered. 

Tuesday 23 May 2017 – Geneva, Switzerland: 19h30 - Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former Minister of Health of Ethiopia, has been elected as the next Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

He was announced as winner after Member States entered a third round of voting, which as per World Health Assembly voting procedure, was required after neither of the two final candidates secured a two-thirds majority of votes. Nania Nishtar was eliminated after the first round securing the lowest number of votes of the three candidates.

He will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2017.

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16h00 - The World Health Assembly are now in a closed session voting for the WHO Director General. 

15h00 - The three candidates for WHO Director General have addressed the 70th World Health Assembly. Speaking first was Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia, followed by David Nabarro from the United Kingdom, and finally Sania Nishtar from Paikistan. 

All three candidated made mention of cancer and NCDs and the urgent need to tackle the pandemic. They also highlighted the necessity of reforming WHO into a more responsive and transparent organisation. 

Earlier in the day, UICC attended the World Economic Forum and Women Deliver side event, ‘Women and NCDs: Fostering an integrated health agenda,’ which brought together leaders from public and private sectors to address the policy and business models required to deliver an integrated health agenda for women throughout the life cycle and to tackle an underlying bias in health and healthcare that penalizes women and families across geographies, particularly when it comes to NCDs.

The morning also included an NCD Child side event on 'Better medicines for children' which UICC was represented at by President-elect HRH Princess Dina Mired. The outcomes of the event was the launch of a taskforce on access to essential medicines and technologies for children and youth. 

Speaking on the panel was Falvia Batureine, Nursing Officer for Uganda Heart Institute, who highlighted that improving access is not just about improving availability of medicines, but also ensuring availability of essential technologies and equipment that support their delivery.

Monday 22 May 2017 – Geneva, Switzerland: The 70th World Health Assembly (#WHA70) opened today with a special address from Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

This year, cancer prevention and control is high on the agenda with discussion and hopeful adoption of the cancer resolution set to take place on Monday 29 May.

During Dr Chan’s address she noted, “The resolutions you adopt also shape the health situation, especially by raising the profile of neglected problems...the strongest call for action comes from high-level political commitment. This happened in 2011, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted a political declaration on non-communicable diseases...”

The recommendations that I most want to see implemented are those made by the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. Childhood obesity is the most visible, and arguably the most tragic, expression of the forces that are driving the rise of NCDs. It is the warning signal that bad trouble, in the form of more heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, is on its way.”

In this, her last address to the World Health Assembly as Director General, Dr Chan concluded by underlining the critical role of civil society: Listen to civil society. Civil society organizations are society’s conscience. They are best placed to hold governments and businesses, like the tobacco, food, and alcohol industries, accountable. They are the ones who can give the people who suffer the most a face and a voice.

With the cancer resolution on this year’s WHA agenda, UICC has been closely following the development of the resolution text, consulting with Member States, as well as UICC members and partners to ensure that this latest global commitment will translate into impactful national action that has equity, quality and outcomes as its driving principles.

For more information on the cancer resolution, visit or follow #CancerResolution @UICC.

NCD Alliance enters a new chapter

The timing of this year's World Health Assembly also marks an important step forward for the NCD Alliance (NCDA), as it has evolved from being an informal alliance to being a standalone NGO registered in Switzerland with a President, Board and consolidated membership base.
Member organisations will meet in a General Assembly every two years, the first of which took place today and welcomed the Board of 13 directors, elected by the General Assembly, to act as the executive body of NCDA.
Against the backdrop of its first day as a standalone entity, the NCDA held a high-level panel discussion on ‘Success Factors for NCDs Pathways to Accelerate Progress’. The event provided an opportunity to explore common success factors and catalytic strategies for implementing NCD prevention policies and building sustainable health systems for NCDs. Moderated by the Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, Dr Richard Horton, ministerial panellists shared best practices spearheaded by their countries, followed by a discussion with representatives from multilateral institutions, NCD experts and civil society advocates. Speakers also highlighted their experiences in overcoming obstacles and barriers, and illustrated successful approaches to move from commitment to action. Outcomes from the event will build momentum for the third UN High-level Meeting on NCDs in 2018.

Last update

Friday 07 June 2019

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