World Health Assembly addresses antimicrobial resistance, immunization gaps and malnutrition


Geneva 25th May 2015 — The World Health Assembly today agreed resolutions to tackle antimicrobial resistance; improve access to affordable vaccines and address over- and under-nutrition.

Tackling antimicrobial drug 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. Antimicrobial resistance is occurring everywhere in the world, compromising our ability to treat infectious diseases, as well as undermining many other advances in health and medicine.

The plan sets out five objectives: 1) improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance; 2) strengthen surveillance and research; 3) reduce the incidence of infection; 4) optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines; and 5) ensure sustainable investment in countering antimicrobial resistance.

The resolution urges Member States to put the plan into action, adapting it to their national priorities and specific contexts and mobilizing additional resources for its implementation. 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. WHO will work with countries to support the development and implementation of their national plans, and will report progress to the Health Assembly in 2017.


The Assembly agreed a resolution to improve access to sustainable supplies of affordable vaccines — a key issue for low and middle income countries aiming to extend immunization to the entire population. In 2012, the Assembly endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a commitment to ensure that no one misses out on vital immunization by 2020. A report from WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization, warns, however, that progress towards the Action Plan's targets is slow and patchy.

The resolution calls on WHO to coordinate efforts to address gaps in progress. It urges Member States to increase transparency around vaccine pricing and explore pooling the procurement of vaccines. It requests the WHO Secretariat to report on barriers that may undermine robust competition that can enable price reductions for new vaccines, and to address any other factors that might adversely affect the availability of vaccines. The resolution also highlighted that immunization is a highly cost-effective public health interventions, playing a major role in reducing child deaths and improving health. It recommends scaling up advocacy efforts to improve understanding of the value of vaccines and to allay fears leading to vaccine hesitancy.

Last week, on the margins of the Health Assembly, the Secretariat brought together high-level representatives of 34 countries with low immunization coverage to discuss challenges and explore solutions to overcome them.

During discussions on immunization, delegates from the Americas noted their region's recent success in eliminating rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, which follows similar successes in eradicating smallpox and eliminating polio. As a group, the countries appealed for support for strategies to reduce the prices of new vaccines to promote sustainable financing for immunization programs, noting that many middle-income countries do not qualify for donor-subsidized vaccines. Delegates cited the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Revolving Fund as an example of a mechanism that helps improve access to vaccines in the Americas by allowing countries to pool resources and purchase quality vaccines and supplies at lower prices.

Rome Declaration on Nutrition and Framework for Action

Delegates approved a resolution endorsing the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and a Framework for Action which recommend a series of policies and programmes across the health, food and agriculture sectors to address malnutrition. Governments had previously agreed both documents at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), organized by WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in November 2014.

The Health Assembly called upon governments to implement commitments to make policy changes and investments aimed at ensuring all people have access to healthier and more sustainable diets. They requested that WHO report back on progress with implementation every two years. Delegates also referred to ongoing discussions in New York on a UN General Assembly resolution to welcome the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and a proposal to declare 'ten years of sustained action in multiple sectors to improve nutrition'.

Indicators to measure nutrition among mothers, babies and young children

Member States agreed a set of indicators to monitor progress for global nutrition targets set in 2012 when the World Health Assembly endorsed a comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition. The plan listed six global targets to be achieved by 2025 on stunting (low height-for-age), wasting (low weight-for-height), overweight, low birth weight, anemia, and breastfeeding. The decision called upon Member States to begin reporting on most indicators from 2016, and others from 2018. They recommended a review of the global nutrition monitoring framework in 2020.