Board endorses resolution on palliative care and appoints two regional directors

PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne is in Geneva this week attending the 134th session of the WHO Executive Board, a WHO governing body that advises the World Health Assembly and follows up on its decisions.


During this week's meeting (20—25 January), the Executive Board appointed a new WHO regional director for South East Asia, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, and reappointed the regional director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Shin Young-soo.

Among other actions this week, the Executive Board on Thursday approved a resolution on palliative care (EB134.R7) sponsored by Panama, which will be presented for consideration by the 67th World Health Assembly. The resolution, "Strengthening of palliative care as a component of integrated treatment within the continuum of care," highlights the critical importance of pain management and other palliative care to reduce the suffering of patients with life-threatening illnesses. It urges WHO Member States to integrate evidence-based, cost-effective, and equitable palliative care services into all levels of health care as a critical part of universal health coverage. It also urges better human resources training in palliative care, including continuing education, for healthcare providers at all levels, from nursing to specialized care.

The resolution calls for measures to ensure adequate supplies of medications for pain management, including internationally controlled medicines, and to improve access to and rational use of these medicines. It calls on WHO to support countries' efforts in these areas through evidence-based guidelines and tools on palliative care and by ensuring that it is an integral component of global health plans and strategies.

Other key areas of discussion at this week's Executive Board meeting included WHO reform, antimicrobial resistance, the International Health Regulations, polio elimination, noncommunicable diseases, vaccines, violence, and universal health coverage. 

The Executive Board is composed of 34 members technically qualified in the field of health, each elected for a three-year term. The main functions of the Executive Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly, to advise it and generally facilitate its work. Resolutions passed at this week's meeting will be put before WHO Member States at the 67th World Health Assembly in May 2014.