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Polio, influenza pandemic, MDGs others dominate 63rd WHA

By Sola Ogundipe
PUBLIC health issues that are dominating the 63rd World Health Assembly which opened in Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday May 17, 2010 featuring over 3,000 delegates from Nigeria and191 other nations of the world include pandemic influenza H1N1, polio, climate change, malaria, monitoring of the achievement of the health-elated Millennium Development Goals amongst others.

The issue of the pandemic influenza is a continuation of the last WHA in 2009 and as of  May 15 this year,  more than 218 countries and territories or communities had reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1, including close to 20, 000 deaths. A draft global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol is due at the 63rd WHA, at which the 30th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox will be observed. Polio eradication remains elusive.

Nigeria is presenting a progress report on polio eradication in response to World Health Assembly resolution WHA61.1 in May 2008.

Following guidance of the Executive Board at its 126th session in January 2010, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has formulated a new strategic plan for 2010-2012, for consideration by the 63rd WHA.

This new strategic plan proposes fundamental changes in strategy in two major areas in particular: achieving the population-immunity thresholds needed to stop wild poliovirus transmission in each of the remaining poliovirus- affected areas of Africa and Asia, and reducing the risks of international spread of poliovirus and re-infection in poliovirus-free areas.

As at February 2010, the three-year budget for the new strategic plan stands at US$ 2600 million, against which there is a global funding shortfall of US$ 1400 million, including a US$ 330 million shortfall for 2010. In order to facilitate national and international monitoring of progress and mid-course corrections if needed, the strategic plan for 2010–2012 outlines specific milestones, the progress towards which will be reviewed on a six-monthly basis by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization, whose findings are being reported to the Executive Board and the WHA through the Director-General.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the H1N1 flu a pandemic in Jun 2009. Some clinical trials of potential vaccines are underway,others are to start soon. The European Medicines Agency said that

large scale clinical trials would be bypassed in order to get vaccines into the general population as soon as possible. Other important matters slated for discussion are implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005);  monitoring of the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals; strategies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; and  counterfeit medical products. The Health. Assembly will also discuss the programme budget, administration and management matters of the  WHO.

On Pandemic influenza preparedness: sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits Outcome of the process to finalize remaining elements under the pandemic influenza preparedness framework for the sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits On climate change and (resolution WHA61.19), in January 2009 the Executive Board at its 124th session adopted resolution EB124.R5, which endorsed the workplan for climate change and health and requested the Director-General, inter alia, to implement the actions contained in the workplan.

In May 2009 the 62nd WHA noted the resolution and workplan. An earlier version of the present report was noted  by the Executive Board at its 126th session.1 The relevant activities undertaken to date are presented according to the four objectives of the workplan.

In May 2009, WHO and the nongovernmental organization Health Care WithoutHarm jointly prepared and issued a paper that begins to define a framework for analysing and dealing with the health sector’s impact on the environment. WHO’s climate and health web site has also been redesigned and updated.

Partnerships with other organizations of the United Nations system and other sectors. This has increased recognition of the health implications of climate change within the relevant United Nations documents.


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