The World Health Organization’s 71st World Health Assembly kicked off at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland today (May 21). The assembly is being attended by nearly 4,000 delegates from 194 member states and partner organisations.
The meet’s primary focus this year is universal health coverage. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said, “We will not settle for a world in which people have to choose between sickness and poverty because of the costs of paying for care out of their own pockets.”
On April 7, the WHO marked its 70th anniversary and the World Health Day’s theme was “Universal Health Coverage: everyone, everywhere”.
“Achieving universal health coverage is feasible for countries at every income level. It is also the right thing to do. Strong political leadership will certainly be necessary at every stage,” said Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and a guest speaker at the assembly.
While saying that several countries have already started rising up to the challenge, he mentioned India. “India has announced its new National Health Protection Scheme, called Ayushman Bharat, which will benefit 500 million people and establish 150,000 health and wellness centres,” said Dr Ghebreyesus.
The agenda of this assembly, which is WHO’s highest decision-making body, includes public health preparedness and response, Polio transition and post-certification, addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines, and maternal, infant and young child nutrition among others.
The assembly will conclude on May 26.
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