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Professor David Wood, WHF President, on participating in the 70th World Health Assembly

22 May 2017

Today marks the opening of the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA), one of the highlights of the global health calendar. At this annual conference, Ministers of Health, civil society and World Health Organization (WHO) experts will meet to discuss the most pressing health issues of our time, including cardiovascular disease (CVD).


As President of the World Heart Federation, I am delighted to welcome a large delegation of member partners, members, Board and staff to the event. Through our leading position in cardiovascular health, we aim to raise the profile of CVD to ensure that global health policies meet the needs of patients and our global membership.

In addition to a packed agenda, many WHA attendees are focused on the election of the next Director-General of the WHO, as Dr Margaret Chan steps aside after 10 years in the post. There are three excellent candidates in the running: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Dr David Nabarro and Dr Sania Nishtar.

The new Director-General will be selected and announced on Tuesday. They will face a number of challenges – not least tackling non-communicable diseases and CVD – and we look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.

In the Assembly itself, our delegation will be delivering statements on key agenda items such as access to medicines, the health of refugees and migrants, and women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health.

We will also follow the debate on Preparations for the High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases in 2018 with a great deal of interest: the outcome of this conference will have a big impact on our ability to reach the 25by25 goal [a 25% reduction in premature mortality cause by CVD by 2025].

This year we are proud to co-host two events during the first week of the Assembly. The first – led by our colleagues at NCD Child – will look at ways to provide Better Medicines for Children, while the second – co-organized alongside Devex and IAPO – will focus on Heart Health in the Era of Longevity. Both events offer a fantastic opportunity to place CVD at the heart of the global health agenda.

Immediately after the World Health Assembly comes another important meeting: the WHO Executive Board, also in Geneva. This will mark a momentous occasion, as Member States will begin global discussions on rheumatic heart disease: a deadly, but neglected CVD. This global dialogue – the first of its kind for rheumatic heart disease – comes as a direct result of our #TimeToTackleRHD campaign, which is coordinated by the World Heart Federation, on behalf of RHD Action and the global RHD community.

Make sure to follow Members’ News to receive the latest updates from the WHA throughout the meeting. We look forward to representing the CVD community at the Assembly, and to continuing to work with our Members to strengthen heart-healthy policies everywhere.