NOTES FOR THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
ABRIDGED REPORT OF THE 56TH SESSION OF THE WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY HELD IN GENEVA FROM 18 TO 28 MAY 2003
Herewith an abridged report of the 56th session of the World Health Assembly as requested. A complete report will be finalized shortly.
- Ministers participated in roundtables on healthy environments for children (environments in which they live, learn and play).
- They shared information on best practices; identified means of overcoming major constraints and obstacles to success; highlighted essential policy interventions and action strategies; examined the role of health and other sectors and made recommendations to WHO and the Healthy Environments for Children Alliance to take forward its work.
- In total 35 resolutions were adopted by the Assembly. A full list is given in Annexure A. This report focuses only on those resolutions deemed of importance to South Africa.
TECHNICAL AND HEALTH MATTERS
- WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC): The Assembly unanimously adopted, the FCTC as annexed to Resolution WHA56.1.
- The FCTC is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of World Health Organization (WHO).
- Among other measures, the FCTC requires countries to impose restrictions on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, put in place price and non-price measures to reduce the supply and demand for tobacco, establish packaging and labeling measures as well as take measures to protect the environment.
- The FCTC will be open for signature at the WHO headquarters (Geneva) from 16 to 22 June 2003 and thereafter at the UN headquarters (New York) from 30 June 2003 to 29 June 2004.
- Forty countries are required to ratify the FCTC for its entry into force.
- International Conference on Primary Health Care, Alma-Ata: twenty-fifth anniversary: The 1978 Alma-Ata meeting identified primary health care as the key to the achievement of health for all.
- A resolution in this regard was adopted. The resolution
requests the Director-General to celebrate the Alma-Ata Declaration by convening a meeting to examine the lessons of the past quarter century and identify future strategies.
- Tropical diseases, including Pan African tsetse and trypanosomiasis eradication campaign: The Assembly adopted a resolution that urges Members States and international organizations to provide support to African Members in their efforts to eradicate tsetse flies.
- Strategy for child and adolescent health development: The Assembly adopted a resolution entitled Strategy for child and adolescent health and development, which, is aimed at reducing death of children (1.8 million in 2000).
- The strategy is also aimed at decreasing the 1.4 million adolescent deaths each year.
- Seven priority areas were identified for action, including nutrition and preventable, treatable communicable diseases, which caused over half the deaths in children under five.
- Member States were urged to make neonatal health, child survival and adolescent health and development a priority.
- Another resolution deals with the reducing global measles mortality. The resolution calls for the strengthening of national immunization programmes and disease-surveillance systems.
- WHO medicines strategy: A resolution on Intellectual property rights, innovation and public health was adopted. The resolution echoes the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and public health in which, the Ministerial Council agreed that the TRIPS Agreement does not and should not prevent Members from taking measures to protect public health and effectively urging Member States to ensure that pharmaceutical patent policies do not work against public health.
- In terms of this resolution WHO will set up a time-limited body by January 2004. The main purpose of this body will be to analyze intellectual property rights, innovation and public health so as to gain a better understanding of the linkages between these concepts.
- Another resolution on Traditional medicine encourages Member States to adopt the WHO traditional medicine strategy which advocates for: national policies and regulations; drug-safety monitoring systems; measures to protect and preserve traditional medical knowledge and plant resources and, where appropriate, the intellectual property rights of traditional practioners.
- WHO’s contribution to the follow-up of the United Nations General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS: The Assembly adopted a resolution entitled Global health-sector strategy for HIV/AIDS. The strategy provides a list of core components, the aim of which is to achieve a balance between prevention and health promotion activities on the one hand and the provision of treatment and care on the other.
- The resolutions calls upon Member States to implement the strategy as appropriate to national circumstances as part of national, multisectoral responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It further calls upon the Director-General of WHO to provide support to the Member States.
- World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD): A resolution entitled: Strategic approach to international chemicals
management: participation of global health partners was adopted. This strategy addresses one of the Commitments from the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. It calls for contributions to work in this area from the health sector, in addition to the environment and other sectors. The Assembly expects the strategic approach to be finalized by 2005 or 2006.
- World report on violence and health: The Assembly adopted a resolution, which calls up-on Member States to develop national plans to ensure more targeted and co-ordinated action to prevent violence by all sectors of society.
- The resolution further calls for better data collection to ensure a more accurate description of the magnitude of the problem and those most affected; improved services for victims of violence including social and legal support; and, a greater focus on addressing the root causes of violence.
- Elimination of avoidable blindness: A resolution on the Elimination of avoidable blindness urges Member States to set up a national Vision 2020 plan in partnership with WHO by 2005 and to start implementing it by 2007. Vision 2020 the Right to Sight is a global initiative launched in 1999 to eliminate avoidable blindness.
- Joint FAO/WHO evaluation of the work of Codex Alimentarius Commission: A resolution entitled Joint FAO/WHO evaluation of the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission that was adopted, calls for increased participation of the health sector in the Codex Alimentarius Commission and a more active role for WHO in the management of Codex Alimentarius Commission in order to protect consumers' health.
- Revision of International Health Regulations: The Assembly adopted a resolution on the revision of the International Health Regulations, the international law which governs public health;
- The resolution confirms and underlines the World Health Organization's (WHO) authority to verify disease outbreaks from all available official and unofficial sources, and, when necessary to determine the severity of an outbreak through on-the-spot investigations to ensure it is appropriately controlled.
- Work on revising the International Health Regulations will continue until a final draft is presented to the World Health Assembly in 2005.
- Strengthening health systems in developing countries: The resolution: The role of contractual arrangements in improving health systems’ performance, which was adopted, urges Member States to ensure that contractual arrangements adopt rules and principles that are in harmony with national health policy.
- This resolution further requests the Director-General of WHO to create an evidence base that will enable Member States to evaluate the impact of different types of contractual arrangements.
- Appointment of the External Auditor: Our Auditor-General, Mr. Shauket Fakie, was nominated for election to the position of External Auditor for WHO alongside seven other national Auditors General. The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India was elected and appointed the External Auditor of WHO for the financial periods 2004-2005 and 2006-2007.
- Programme budget: An effective working budget of US $880 111 000 for WHO was agreed covering the 2004-2005 biennium. This represents an increase in the overall level of the budget of 2.9%.
- The African region of WHO receives the biggest share (22%) of the budget in comparison with other regions. There is also an increase in the budget allocation to WHO country offices.
- Assessments for 2004-2005: The Assembly decided to adopt the latest available United Nations scale of assessment for assessed contributions of Member States.
- The UN scale of assessment has an effect of increasing the contributions of some Member States. South Africa’s contributions will go up by 366 thousand US dollars.
- Adjustment mechanism: The Assembly further decided to establish an adjustment mechanism (financial relief fund) to compensate those Member States that will experience an increase in their contribution.
- Representation of developing countries in the Secretariat: The Assembly adopted a resolution that contains measures to correct the imbalances in the distribution of posts in the WHO Secretariat between developing and developed countries.
- Appointment of the Director-General of the WHO: Dr Jong-Wook Lee, 58, a medical doctor and national of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) was elected Director-General of WHO. Dr Lee has worked for nearly 20 years in WHO.
- The Member States also expressed their profound gratitude to Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, the out-going Director-General, for her "outstanding and visionary managerial, political and technical leadership, characterized by integrity, strength, endurance and determination."
- Health conditions of, and assistance to, the Arab population in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine: A resolution entitled Health conditions of, and assistance to, the Arab
population in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine
calls up on the WHO Director-General to take immediate steps to guarantee the free movement of health workers, emergency services and patients, and the provision of medicines and medical supplies to Palestinian health facilities.
- Member States also requested the establishment of a fact-finding committee to assess the deterioration of the health situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory.
LIST OF RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY THE 56TH SESSION OF THE WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
Appointment of the Director-General
Contract of the Director-General
Expression of appreciation to Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland
Health conditions of, and assistance to, the Arab population in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine
International Conference on Primary Health Care, Alma-Ata: twenty-fifth anniversary
Pan African tsetse and trypanosomiasis eradication campaign
Appointment of the External Auditor
Unaudited interim financial report on the accounts of WHO for 2002
Members in arrears in the payment of their contributions to an extent which would justify invoking Article 7 of the Constitution
Arrears in payment of contributions: Kazakhstan
Assessments for 2002 and 2003
Real Estate Fund
Real Estate Fund: Regional Office for Africa
Assignment of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste to the South-East Asia Region
Reassignment of Cyprus from the Eastern Mediterranean Region to the European Region
Human resources: gender balance
Salaries of staff in ungraded posts and of the Director-General
Prevention and control of influenza pandemics and annual epidemics
Reducing global measles mortality
Strategy for child and adolescent health and development
Strategic approach to international chemicals management: participation of global health partners
Joint FAO/WHO evaluation of the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission
Implementing the recommendations of the World report on violence and health
The role of contractual arrangements in improving health systems’ performance
Elimination of avoidable blindness
Intellectual property rights, innovation and public health
Revision of the International Health Regulations
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
Global health-sector strategy for HIV/AIDS
Appropriation resolution for the financial period 2004-2005
Scale of assessments for the financial period 2004-2005
Representation of developing countries in the Secretariat