World Health Assembly, day 3: monitoring framework for maternal and child nutrition approved

At the World Health Assembly on Wednesday, Member States approved a global monitoring framework on maternal, infant and young child nutrition. The WHO Secretariat was asked to develop recommendations for Member States on how to address the inappropriate marketing of complementary foods – foods for infants and young children who are still breastfed. The Secretariat was also asked to facilitate further development of the indicators described in this framework, and to convene informal consultations with Member States on tools to manage undue industry influence.

José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), was present for the debate to address delegates. FAO and WHO will co-host the Second International Conference on Nutrition in November 2014. Both organizations were requested to ensure that other United Nations (UN) organizations, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders take part in consultations on the conference’s outcome.

Technical briefing on health care under attack

Delegates discussed the increasing number of attacks on health workers, in both conflict and non-conflict settings. They reviewed common action to address the problem and reaffirmed the principles of the sanctity of health care facilities and the safety of health workers.

Global vaccine action plan

Member States acknowledged the importance of immunization for public health and expressed their support for the global vaccine action plan in Committee A (for technical and health matters) discussions. They noted multiple challenges in this area, including low data quality, the high cost of new vaccines, lack of sustained financing of immunization programmes, low human resource capacity, suboptimal coverage, lack of access to vaccines by certain populations and the influence of anti-vaccination groups. Delegates called on WHO to demonstrate leadership in this area, particularly in monitoring the global supply of vaccines and disease elimination and eradication targets – notably for measles.

Highlights for the European Region

  • Dr Salidat Kairbekova, Minister of Health of Kazakhstan, and Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, signed an agreement for the country to host a new WHO geographically dispersed office (GDO) on primary health care in Almaty. Establishment of the GDO is aimed at strengthening work in the WHO European Region on health service delivery, in particular in the area of development of primary health care.
  • In a bilateral meeting with the Regional Director, the delegation of Luxembourg explained that the new minister of health’s priorities include a national hospital plan and national cancer plan. Discussions covered the challenge of budget cuts across the government (including for health), the economic evidence for investing in prevention activities for health and Luxembourg’s plans during its presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2015.
  • Zsuzsanna Jakab and Paulo Macedo, Minister of Health of Portugal, signed a biennial collaborative agreement, outlining joint work and priorities between the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Ministry for 2014–2015. The Ministry’s work in assessing the impact of health policies was recognized during discussions, as a possible example to other countries. The Minister noted that the country had achieved success in reducing infant mortality rates, and that HIV prevention and treatment was another priority.
  • The Regional Director thanked the delegation of the Netherlands for the country’s support on antimicrobial resistance, and discussions followed on the Regional Office’s health information work and collaboration with RIVM, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands.
  • Issues covered in a meeting between the delegation of Iceland and Zsuzsanna Jakab included upcoming events such as the San Marino conference for small countries in early June and the Helsinki meeting on implementing Health 2020 in mid-June. Regional Office collaboration with the European Commission and its agencies and ministry priorities – obesity (as part of healthy lifestyles), mental health, health in all policies and primary prevention – were also discussed.