Executive Board discusses newborn health, mycetoma and the development and governance process for WHO guidelines

The 137th session of WHO's Executive Board took place on 27–28 May 2015, after the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly. 

The Executive Board comprises 34 individuals elected by Member States to push forward the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it and facilitate its work. Current members from the WHO European Region are from Albania, Finland, France, Kazakhstan, Malta, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.

Highlights for the WHO European Region

The agenda included a draft accountability framework for newborn health. Members from the European Region welcomed it and its aim to harmonize action plans and strategies. They noted the need to increase focus on still-births, and the importance of an indicator on underweight and premature births. 

The Board also discussed a report on mycetoma, a chronic, progressively destructive morbid inflammatory disease, usually of the foot, endemic in tropical and subtropical areas. Members from the European Region expressed their commitment to addressing neglected tropical diseases but also requested more information on what country offices and regional offices were already doing to address mycetoma, and asked for more information on the financial implications of approving a resolution on it. 

Discussions also covered a report on the development and governance of WHO guidelines, with particular emphasis on the role of Member States. Many European members commended the Secretariat on the clear, concise report on one of WHO's core functions, and emphasized the need for WHO to maintain its integrity, neutrality and transparency in developing guidelines.

The Executive Board also considered the speed with which a new methodology for allocating strategic budget space should be implemented, including how WHO's budget is shared between the regions. All the regions showed strong overall support for the methodology, with debate focusing on whether to implement it over 3 or 5 biennia.

In addition, the Board discussed the proposed policy on the rotation and mobility of WHO staff. On behalf of all WHO staff associations, the headquarters staff association raised some concerns about the practical implementation of the policy, in terms of costs, loss of expertise, unclear benefits for WHO and timing. Executive Board members expressed their overall support for the policy, as an important part of WHO reform.