WHO’s annual assembly ends with agreement on funding, and array of health topics

Clausura de la 76a Asamblea Mundial de Salud

Geneva, Switzerland, 30 May 2023- WHO’s 76th health assembly closed today, having addressed a vast array of issues, including behavioural sciences; best buys for non-communicable diseases; diagnostics; drowning prevention; emergency, critical and operative care; food micronutrients; Indigenous health; infection prevention and control; maternal and child health; medical oxygen; primary health care; refugee and migrant health; rehabilitation; traditional medicine, and WHO’s work in responding to dozens of emergencies while working with Member States to be better prepared to face new ones.

Earlier in the day, delegates in Committee A agreed to note the roadmap towards the Global Health and Peace Initiative (along with a slight change in name from “Global Health for Peace Initiative”) and requested that the Director-General report on progress in strengthening the roadmap. 

In plenary, as the final approval step of the assembly, delegates adopted the resolutions and decisions of the two committees and adopted their reports. This included approval of the budget for 2024-25, and a 20% increase in assessed contributions.

In his closing remarks, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General, noted that “the increase in assessed contributions and the investment round are historic and a huge milestone.” He spoke about the year ahead, with high-level meetings on universal health coverage, tuberculosis and pandemic preparedness and response at this year’s UN General Assembly. He pointed to the continuing negotiations on the pandemic accord and amendments to the International Health Regulations as unprecedented—“generational”—opportunities to learn from the mistakes of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure they are not repeated.

PAHO at the 76th World Health Assembly

During the Assembly, a delegation from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), headed by its Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, closely followed the deliberations and participated in a series of round tables and side events.

Watch the video where Dr. Barbosa highlights the health priorities of the 76th World Health Assembly for the Americas.

Some of the resolutions and strategic priorities of relevance to the Americas region were the approval of a 20% budget increase for WHO, strengthening emergency preparedness and response, maternal and child health, indigenous health, and climate change, among other issues.

Throughout the week, Dr. Barbosa held working meetings with ministers of health and other high-level authorities from the region, as well as from France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea and Japan, among others, to discuss priority health issues and opportunities for cooperation.

The PAHO Director also met with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer at Google, to discuss potential areas for future collaboration in areas such as vaccine hesitancy, mental health, and digital transformation; and met with Chris Elias, President of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Development Program, to discuss ways to improve immunization coverage in the region and re-launch PAHO's Elimination Initiative that seeks to end more than 30 diseases and related conditions.

The PAHO Director also spoke at an event on regionalized vaccine manufacturing organized by the World Economic Forum, where he highlighted that the Region, and the world, must prepare now to ensure equal access to vaccines in the event of another pandemic; and participated in a panel convened by the European Union to discuss partnerships for global health, where he highlighted the role of UN agency partnerships in ensuring substantive action in health and development in the Americas. He also participated in a strategic roundtable to celebrate 20 years since the adoption of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

During his participation in an event organized by Devex on improving health in Latin America and the Caribbean, Dr. Barbosa highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic was "an inflection point for health in the Region," exposing structural deficiencies in health, social and economic policies, and provoking significant disruptions in health service delivery. At the same time, he said, the pandemic opened "opportunities to expedite innovations in health service delivery to increase its effectiveness, and to position health on the development and political agendas of leaders and policy makers."

The 76th World Health Assembly was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21 to 30 May 2023. The theme of this year’s Health Assembly was: WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all, in reference to the 75th anniversary of the creation of the World Health Organization in 1948.