70th World Health Assembly focuses on controlling pathogens and preventing a global pandemic
By Ian Jamotillo
3,500 delegates from 194 Member States graced the 70 th World Health Assembly held at Geneva, Switzerland, from May 21-31, with focus on controlling disease-carrying pathogens and preventing global pandemic that could kill millions of lives.
The yearly assembly discussed major public health issues, such as control of disease-carrying vectors in response to increasing epidemics; prevention of non-communicable diseases through tobacco and sugar-sweetened beverages management; as well as giving importance to hearing loss and combating Anti-Microbial resistance (AMR).
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia was elected as the new Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO), with a total of 133 votes, becoming the first African WHO chief, beating Pakistani cardiologist Sania Nishtar and British physician David Nabarro.
A politician and a former health minister, who spearheaded health insurance projects in impoverished countries, Tedros was supported by all 54 African Union States, citing his contributions toward expansion of Ethiopian health infrastructures and reforming the country's health system.
"I will work tirelessly to fulfil WHO's promise of universal health coverage," Tedrod said. He will replace the outgoing Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, and will start taking office on July 1st for a five-year term.
Control over Vector
Delegates around the world took part in the development of The Global Vector Control Response (GVCR) 2017-2030, which aims to reduce the occurrence of vector-borne diseases by 60% and decrease mortality rate by at least 75% by 2030.
According to WHO, more than 17% of all infectious diseases are vector-borne, agents that carry and transmit pathogens, such as parasites and microbes. GVCR aims to eliminate epidemics by promoting intensive research, as well as strengthening immunization programs in adherence to the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP).
AMR and the Future of Medicine
In lieu of vaccine intervention to lessen contraction of communicable diseases, the assembly also highlighted the growing threat of anti-microbial resistance and the contingency plans to combat it and reduce mortality.
Judit Rius Sanjuan, United States manager for Medecins Sans Frontieres Access Campaign, which is based in New York, spoke about the importance of medical stewardship, proper diagnosis and organized health systems in preventing misuse of antibiotics that result into certain microbes being resistant to their effects.
Care for the Ears
A new resolution was proposed during the 70th assembly that will give importance to deafness and proper hearing care by integrating several strategies within each country's health care systems. With 360 million people across the world living with hearing disability, the new proposal will establish training programs for health workers and give wide access to affordable yet high-quality, assistive hearing technologies and products.
A Call for Change
Serving two terms since first appointed last 2006, the incumbent Director-General Margaret Chan gave her final address at the 70th assembly, stressing out the challenges in the medical industry and the recent developments to improve global healthcare.