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Highlights from the 74th World Health Assembly

02 Jun 2021

The 74th World Health Assembly (WHA74), under the theme “Ending this pandemic, preventing the next: building together a healthier, safer and fairer world”, concluded this week, with Member States adopting more than 30 resolutions and decisions on diabetes, noncommunicable diseases, patient safety, neglected tropical diseases, oral health, local production of medicines, social determinants of health, and the healthcare workforce, among others.

Of particular importance to the global health community, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on strengthening WHO preparedness and response for emergencies, and agreed to reconvene in November 2021 at a special session of the World Health Assembly. During this meeting, Member States will consider the development of a WHO convention, agreement, or other international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response.

Despite some of the difficulties associated with the meeting once again taking place online and changes to procedures involving Non-State Actors, WHF was able to lead the charge on rheumatic heart disease (RHD) on behalf of the global cardiovascular community. Following months of close collaboration with a number of key Member States, we were gratified to hear the African Union, Kenya, and Zambia call for a Global Action Plan on RHD. WHF delivered its own statement urging the global health community, the World Health Organization and Member States to reiterate their commitment to ending RHD following the 2018 resolution.

WHF was one of just five organizations to deliver a new type of intervention, dubbed a “constituency statement”, on Agenda Item 17: WHO’s work in health emergencies and strengthening preparedness for health emergencies. On behalf of the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health, we called for better circulatory disease care and prevention in the context of COVID-19 and future emergency preparedness.

WHF also worked closely with a number of partner organizations to deliver joint statements on agenda items relevant to the global cardiovascular community. We supported and welcomed new resolutions on diabetes, oral health, patient safety, and social determinants of health.

Other notable outcomes from WHA74 included warnings from Member States around potential conflicts of interest and consistent calls from around the globe for vaccine equity in the ongoing COVID-19 response.

The 74th World Health Assembly is now behind us, but WHF’s work on essential heart health policies continues. Watch this space for updates on our global advocacy, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected] to learn more or to get involved.