Closing of the World Health Assembly: WHO Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors adopted

The World Health Assembly has adopted the WHO Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA), after more than 2 years of intergovernmental negotiations.

FENSA represents a major step in WHO's governance reform. It provides the Organization with comprehensive policies and procedures on engaging with nongovernmental organizations, private sector entities, philanthropic foundations and academic institutions.

FENSA aims to strengthen WHO's engagement with all stakeholders while protecting its work from conflicts of interest and undue influence from external actors, and is based on a standardized process of due diligence and risk assessment. It also facilitates an enhanced level of transparency and accountability in WHO's engagement with non-State actors, with information on these engagements publicly available online in the WHO Register of non-State actors. 

Many European Member States spoke on this issue, recognizing the importance of FENSA and their commitment to implementing it. Countries expressed confidence that it will facilitate and improve engagement with all health stakeholders, which is essential for implementing the Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Other resolutions and decisions agreed

Delegates at the World Health Assembly also agreed resolutions and decisions on air pollution, chemicals, the health workforce, childhood obesity, violence, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), the election of the next Director-General, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the International Health Regulations, tobacco control, road traffic deaths and injuries, nutrition, HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infections, mycetoma, research and development, access to medicines and integrated health services.

Air pollution

Delegates welcomed a new roadmap for responding to the adverse health effects of air pollution. 9 Member States from the European Region made statements and all were very supportive of the roadmap. Many also thanked Norway for its leadership in this area. The delegate of Norway called for WHO's capacities to be scaled up at all levels to monitor the commitments outlined in the roadmap.

Health workforce

The Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 was adopted. Many Member States from the European Region spoke on the issue, making reference to the importance of matching the supply of health workers to need. They also emphasized that ensuring adequate and equitable human resources for health is a vehicle for economic development, and in line with the SDG agenda.

Ending childhood obesity

Member States endorsed 6 recommendations in the report of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, which sets out the approaches and combinations of interventions likely to be most effective in tackling childhood and adolescent obesity in different contexts around the world. A delegate of the Russian Federation underlined the importance of the report and the need for multidisciplinary approaches, and added that unless obesity in children is addressed, the challenges of NCDs in adults cannot be tackled. 

Global plan of action on violence

Delegates agreed a resolution on the WHO global plan of action on violence. The plan is designed to help countries strengthen action to address interpersonal violence, in particular violence against women and girls and against children. Several Member States in the European Region, including Germany, Iceland, Monaco, the Russian Federation, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, made interventions and welcomed the plan. A delegate of Germany praised the guidelines addressing intimate partner violence, adding that the plan is a "crucial contribution" to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Tobacco control

To further strengthen global tobacco control efforts, delegates decided to invite the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control's (WHO FCTC) Conference of the Parties (COP) to provide information on outcomes of its biennial meeting at future World Health Assembly meetings. This invitation was based on a proposal by Norway. France, Iceland, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Turkey and the United Kingdom also spoke during discussions on this topic.

Public health dimension of the world drug problem

Delegations agreed that the world drug problem is an urgent one, with public health and human rights dimensions that require continued work from WHO. Many European delegations supported the statement made by the Netherlands, which expressed disappointment that no decision was agreed at this year's World Health Assembly. The item will be added to the agenda of WHO's 140th Executive Board in January 2017. 

Access to medicines and vaccines

Delegations agreed a range of measures aimed at addressing the global shortage of medicines and vaccines, especially for children. From the European Region, Finland, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom spoke on the issue, recognizing that this is a problem affecting low- and high-income countries alike. They called for the essential medicines list to be extended to include all those that can be used for children, and emphasized that a global system is needed for the early recognition of shortages. 

Maternal, infant, and young child nutrition

Delegates adopted 2 resolutions on nutrition. The first, drawn up in response to the recently launched UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016–2025, urges countries to make concrete policy and financial commitments to improve people's diets and to report back regularly. The second supported WHO guidance on ending the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children. France, Norway, the Russian Federation and Switzerland made interventions, with Switzerland expressing the hope that "this will stop marketing of supplementary foods, and will create a healthful environment for children".

Technical briefing on migration and health

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, presented an overview of migration and health in the European and other regions, stressing that WHO and partners must work with Member States to ensure refugees' and migrants' health rights. She explained the aims of the Public Health Aspects of Migration in Europe (PHAME) Project, which provides technical assistance to countries, collects health information and evidence, aids policy development and undertakes advocacy and communication. The Regional Director also outlined progress towards a European strategy and action plan for refugee and migrant health.