Reporting back: 71st World Health Assembly

4 June 2018

Delegations from across the world met for the 71st World Health Assembly from Monday 21st to Saturday 26th May to set the direction for the World Health Organization and discuss key issues including preparations for the 3rd High-level Meeting on NCDs.

New announcements

This year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) was the first one for Dr Tedros as Director General. Things kicked off in a very different way with a ‘Walk the Talk: the health for all challenge’ event around Geneva on Sunday. This saw WHA delegates and the Genevois come together to walk, jog and run around the city. Check out how our President, Sanchia Aranda, and President-Elect, Princess Dina Mired, got involved here. Check out #healthforall on Twitter for photos of the event.

Also on Sunday, UICC was invited to co-host a side event with a number of UN Agencies which launched a call to action to eliminate cervical cancer globally. Arguing that we have all the ingredients for success, the WHO Director General re-iterated the need for action in side events during the WHA week and during Committee discussions.

On Wednesday 23rd May World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI) launched Diet, nutrition, physical activity and cancer: a global perspective. This brings together the key findings from the Third Expert Review on the evidence on preventing and surviving cancer through diet, nutrition and physical activity, as part of WCRFI’s Continuous Update Project.

Finally, on Thursday 24th the NCD Alliance launched their new practical guide Integrated care: Shaping the health systems of the future. The report draws together case studies and recommendations from existing integrated care programmes across different NCDs to identify common lessons learned and opportunities.

UICC was also proud to host three UICC members from Mexico, Indonesia and Uganda to take part in the first Treatment for All workshop and join the UICC delegation to take part in the WHA.

Official discussions

A number of cancer-relevant agenda items were discussed at the WHA:

  • WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work (A71/4) sets out the direction and priorities for the organisation from 2019-2023. A number of Member States, including the EURO and EMRO regions, highlighted the importance of NCDs within their statements. Pakistan emphasised the need for ‘predictable resources’ for NCDs and mental health and health emergencies, which was reflected by Finland who identify NCDs and infectious outbreaks as major threats to health systems.

    A number of Member States voiced concern over the ability to fund the GPW and requested further details about the shift to investing more resources in national offices to support Governments in the development of UHC and other GPW priorities. The resolution was adopted and you can read UICC’s statement here.

  • Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines (A71/12) following on from the adoption of the 2016 resolution on shortages of access to medicines and vaccines, this report details progress made so far by WHO in developing a roadmap to improve access. A number of member states were supportive of the report which was adopted, with the final roadmap to be submitted to next year’s WHA for approval. Read UICC’s statement here.
  • Preparations for the 3rd High-level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs (A71/14, A71/14 Add.1) this agenda item included a report back from the Director General on progress made against the global NCD targets, bottlenecks, and the preliminary evaluation of the Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs. The majority of Member States were supportive of the report, emphasising the importance of developing strong nationally policies which integrated NCDs into universal health coverage (UHC) to tackle growing burdens. Angola, Namibia, Georgia and Jamaica identified the burden of cancer nationally, both socially and economically, and the steps they are taking to address this.  

    The resolution was adopted urging Member States to step-up efforts to prevent and control NCDs and for countries to participate in the upcoming HLM at the Head of State or Government level. Read UICC’s statement here.

You can review all the official WHA documents here.

Last update: 
Friday 7 June 2019