The 70th World Health Assembly (WHA), the main decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), opened at Geneva-based UN headquarters.
This year’s assembly will determine policies on a range of health issues, including medicines and health products, non-communicable diseases, health emergencies, as well as maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health.
A new WHO Director-General will also be elected as incumbent head Margaret Chan’s mandate comes to an end.
In her final opening address to the assembly as Director-General, Chan called on the assembly to make “reducing inequalities” a guiding ethical principle.
“WHO stands for fairness,” she said, adding that countries should also work to improve collection of health data and make health strategies more accountable.
Chan stressed the importance of continued innovation, noting that “meeting the ambitious targets in the Sustainable Development Goals depends on innovation.”Earlier in the day, the World Health Assembly elected Professor Veronica Skvortsova, Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation, as its new President.
Five Vice-Presidents were also appointed from Cabo Verde, the Cook Islands, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Somalia and Suriname.
Some 3500 delegates from WHO’s 194 Member States – including a large proportion of the world’s health ministers – are attending the World Health Assembly, which ends on 31 May.
They are currently debating ways to advance the 2030 agenda, focusing on building better systems for health.