69th session of World Health Assembly kicks off

The 69th World Health Assembly (WHA), the main decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), opened here at the UN headquarters on Monday.

“Health as a cross-cutting issue is pivotal for achieving the objectives of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and other policy frameworks,” said Michael Moller, director-general of the UN’s Geneva office, in an opening statement.

Presided by newly-elected Ahmed Mohammed Al-Saidi, Oman’s health minister, the assembly will determine policies on a broad range of high-priority health issues, from maternal and child nutrition to universal health coverage to health emergencies.

“Only a WHO which is strong and united can face the current challenges before us,” Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset highlighted, citing challenges such as antimicrobial resistance, health and humanitarian emergencies, incommunicable diseases, mental health, sexual reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, as well as researching and developing medical products.

“An active WHO is also indispensable to successfully working with other international organizations to address the determinants of health,” he added.

Ending on May 28, this year’s assembly is the biggest to date, bringing together around 3,500 people.

Some 21 resolutions are expected to be discussed by delegations from WHO’s 194 members.