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70th World Health Assembly: Round-up of Key Decisions

12 Jun 2017

From 22-31 May, the World Heart Federation participated in the 70th World Health Assembly, held in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to attending policy discussions, the WHF co-sponsored two side events, which were among the 26 NCD-themed meetings taking place alongside the Assembly. From a packed agenda spanning 10 days and featuring discussions on a wide variety of topics within global health, we have picked out some of the key outcomes for the CVD and NCD communities.


Election of new WHO Director-General: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

On Tuesday 25 May, Ethiopian Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was elected as the new WHO Director-General. Dr Tedros, as he is known, will be the first Director-General from the African region and the first to be elected following a transparent and competitive process. His term will last last five years, beginning on 01 July 2017.

Dr Tedros placed a strong focus on universal health coverage in his campaign, and has also recognized the growing importance of tackling the global NCD epidemic. Speaking at a Geneva side event, Dr Tedros emphasized that NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes were preventable, declaring: ‘it’s in our hands’.

Endorsement of Appendix 3

Under Agenda Item 15.1, Member States adopted a Resolution on Preparations for the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs in 2018. The Resolution included provisions to note the workplan of the Global Coordinating Mechanism on NCDs for 2018-2019, and urged countries to honour their international commitments on NCDs.

Additionally, following extensive parallel discussions, Member States also voted to endorse the updated version of Appendix 3 – a list of cost-effective policy options to tackle NCDs.

However the United States of America disassociated itself from this endorsement of Appendix 3, and registered similar objections to certain measures contained in the Implementation Plan on Ending Childhood Obesity

Adoption of Resolution on the Health of Refugees and Migrants

During lengthy discussions on Agenda Item 13.7, Member States acknowledged the necessity of strengthening whole health systems in order to promote the health of refugees and migrants, as well as the importance of responding to both the physical and mental health needs of migrants and refugees.

Member States also adopted a Resolution on this item. This Resolution asks the WHO Director-General to identify best practices and experiences on health services for refugees and migrants; these would then inform the drafting of a Global Action Plan on the Health of Refugees and Migrants, which is scheduled to be discussed in May 2019.

Cancer Resolution adopted

In another policy win for the NCD community, on Tuesday 30 May Member States adopted a global Resolution on ‘Cancer prevention and control in the context of an integrated approach’.

A large number of Member States and non-State actors spoke in support of the Resolution during the discussions: we congratulate our colleagues at UICC on the successful adoption of this global policy, which includes provisions for a World Cancer Report in 2019.