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Geneva, May 22 – The 76th World Health Assembly (WHA), kicked off here, focused on “saving lives, driving health for all,” the WHO said in a statement.
As 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the WHO, this year’s WHA which began on Sunday will determine the immediate and longer-term future of the organisation, starting with the programme budget for the next two years, key decisions about the sustainable financing and changes to improve WHO’s processes and accountability, Xinhua news agency reported.
During the 10-day meeting, delegates will deliberate about the critical role that the WHO has in the Global Health Emergency Architecture. The assembly will also review last year’s progress, accomplishments and challenges along with future priorities across the key pillars of the WHO’s work: Universal Health Coverage, Emergencies, Promoting Health and Well-being.
“Peace depends on health, disease in one nation endangers all, achieving the greatest possible health for everyone everywhere relies on cooperation,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video speech at the opening ceremony of the assembly.
Since the birth of the WHO 75 years ago, human health has advanced dramatically, the Secretary-General noted, adding that global life expectancy is up over 50 per cent, infant mortality is down by 60 per cent, and smallpox eradicated.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has stalled and even reversed progress in public health. We risk further eroding the enormous gains made over the past decades and backsliding on Sustainable Development Goals,” Guterres said.
“But this is not inevitable,” he stressed, calling on all to “continue to work together and to support the WHO to achieve the highest standard of health for all”.
While addressing the opening of the WHA, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recalled the major achievements that the organisation had realised during the past 75 years.
Tedros said that the organisation faces complex challenges as the world’s expectations of the WHO have grown enormously.
“The road is meandering and rough, but the destination is sure,” he added.