Day 4 of the World Health Assembly: highlights for the European Region

    • WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, and the President of the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly, Dr Jagat Prakash Nadda, yesterday led the World Health Assembly's annual awards ceremony, presenting four prizes to leaders in public health. Three of the prizes were awarded to organizations in the WHO European Region. The Sasakawa Health Prize was given to the Childbirth with Dignity Foundation, which has helped transform obstetrics in Poland. The United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize was awarded to another Polish foundation, "Akogo?", which provides free inpatient rehabilitation assistance to children with severe traumatic brain injury. This year's Dr Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health was presented to the Thalassaemia International Federation based in Nicosia, Cyprus. It aims to improve the survival and quality of life of patients with thalassaemia around the world.
    • On 21 May, 17 Member States in the WHO European Region and a representative of the European Union attended a meeting of a group drafting a decision on Ebola. Good progress was made in developing the draft, with clarifications made on issues including the mandate of the review panel, the role of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Review Committee, the process to assess countries' core capacity to implement IHR, management of the WHO emergency programme, respecting existing international laws and the flexibility of the contingency fund. Discussions would continue on 22 May. 
    • Delegates of many countries took the floor during Committee A's discussions on poliomyelitis (polio) preparedness, surveillance and response. A statement read by Norway on behalf of all Member States in the European Region expressed strong support for the process and dates set in the draft resolution on polio for the withdrawal by April 2016 of the type 2 component in oral polio vaccine, and the introduction of at least one dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine in all countries. Other issues raised by European Member States included the need to strengthen surveillance in conflict areas, stockpile type 2 polio vaccine and clarify the financing mechanism for polio eradication. The agenda item was suspended, to allow further time for discussions.
    • A technical briefing on the new Global Financing Facility to secure funding for reducing child and maternal mortality was held on Thursday, 21 May. It will be launched in July 2015 in Ethiopia, and will be rolled out to 63 low- and middle-income countries to fund aligned activities until 2030 to achieve the sustainable development goals. Three countries in the European Region are eligible to receive funding: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Financing and support will cover health systems, including prevention activities, primary health care and family planning; nutrition; and civil registration and vital statistics systems in countries. It is governed by the Global Financing Facility Investors Group, and includes donor countries (Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), civil society, technical agencies, the private sector and foundations. The secretariat is based at the World Bank.