Washington, DC / Geneva, Switzerland, May 19, 2017 (PAHO / WHO) - Ministers and health officials from 194 countries will participate in the 70th World Health Assembly next week to discuss actions on issues such as responding to emergencies, antimicrobial resistance, and ensuring access to vaccines and medicaments, among others. This year, the Assembly also will elect a new Director-General for the World Health Organization.
The World Health Assembly, which starts May 22 in Geneva, Switzerland, is the supreme decision-making body of WHO. Its main functions are to determine the policies of the Organization, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed program budget.
The Region of the Americas participates with national health authorities from each country and a delegation of representatives of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO Regional Office for the Americas, headed by its Director, Carissa F. Etienne.
PAHO / WHO will display information about regional health issues and universal health in the Americas at its stand in the Palais des Nations, where the Assembly is held, along with other materials that illustrate its regional health work.
During the Assembly, health authorities will analyze WHO's response to emergencies, how to combat antimicrobial resistance, improving access to vaccines and medicaments, and the Global Vaccine Action Plan. They will also discuss a global response for vector control, and themes related to noncommunicable diseases including childhood obesity, dementia, nutrition, cancer prevention, the public health dimension of the world drug problem, hearing loss, and other issues.
On May 23, delegates will elect a new Director-General of WHO to replace Dr. Margaret Chan, who has led the organization for the last 10 years.
The country delegates will also receive technical updates on vaccines, and Dr. Etienne will brief them on the achievements of the Region of the Americas on vaccine-preventable diseases. Other technical reports will cover universal health as well as health and the environment.
Health ministers from the Americas will also have an opportunity to discuss the 2030 Health Agenda for Sustainable Development for the Region, which align with the United Nations development goals.
Meanwhile, delegations from the Americas are holding various meetings in parallel to the Assembly to discuss public health issues ranging from attacks on health workers, health and human rights of women, adolescents and children, the global health security agenda, access to medicines, the fight against neglected diseases, and ocular health, among others.