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76th Annual World Health Assembly

  • 02 Jun 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: World Health Organization, World Health Assembly, G20, Ayushman Bharat
For Mains: India’s participation in the World Health Assembly, World Health Organisation functioning, Significance of India's contributions in medical value travel

Why in News?

Recently, the 76th annual World Health Assembly was held at World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters(HQ), Geneva, Switzerland, from 21st to 30th May 2023.

  • The theme for 2023 is "WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all."
  • The participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister in the 76th World Health Assembly highlighted India's commitment to global health.
  • Taiwan was excluded from the WHO assembly due to opposition from China and Pakistan.

What is the World Health Assembly?

  • About:
    • The World Health Assembly (WHA) is WHO’s decision-making body attended by delegations from all of WHO’s member states.
    • It is held yearly at the HQ of WHO, i.e., Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Functions of WHA:
    • Deciding on Organization’s policies.
    • Appointment of the Director-General of WHO.
    • Administration of financial policies.
    • Review and approval of the proposed programme budget.

What are the Key Highlights?

  • Global Plan for Indigenous Health:
    • Draft resolution accepted for developing a Global Plan of Action for the Health of Indigenous People.
      • The plan will be considered at the 79th World Health Assembly in 2026.
    • Consultation with indigenous peoples and their free, prior, and informed consent emphasized.
    • Addressing challenges such as poverty, violence, discrimination, and limited access to healthcare.
    • Focus on reproductive, maternal, and adolescent health, vulnerable situations.
    • Members were urged to collect ethical data to identify specific requirements of indigenous people.
    • Aimed at improving the health and well-being of indigenous populations.
  • Global Alliance for Drowning Prevention:
    • Global Alliance for Drowning Prevention was established during the 76th WHA meeting.
    • Aims to address global public health concerns related to drowning by 2029.
    • WHO to coordinate action and prepare a global status report on drowning.
    • Drowning has a significant impact on the world's poorest populations.
      • Over 90% of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
    • Official global estimate of drowning deaths may be significantly underestimated as they exclude drownings attributable to flood related climatic events and water transport incidents.
  • Draft Resolution on Chemicals, Waste, and Pollution:
    • Draft resolution on chemicals, waste, and pollution impact accepted during 76th World Health Assembly.
    • WHO urged to update Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals report with United Nations Environment Programme.
    • Limited data on chemical exposures and health concerns highlighted.
    • Resolution encourages regulatory frameworks, biomonitoring, and risk identification for chemicals of concern such as cadmium, lead, mercury etc.
    • Concern over poor chemical waste management and long-term health effects are raised.
    • Request for WHO report on human health implications and data gaps.
    • Importance of data organization by sex, age, disability, and harmful substances.
  • WHO Program Budget:
    • WHO member states agreed on a budget of 6.83 billion USD for 2024-2025, including a 20% increase in assessed contributions.
    • Over the past few years, assessed contributions had declined, accounting for less than one-quarter of WHO's financing.
    • Top contributors include Germany, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, US, UK, and European Commission.
    • WHO's reliance on voluntary contributions raises governance concerns and affects sustained technical cooperation and goal achievement.
    • Highlighted contributions that hinder the WHO's ability to provide effective technical cooperation and achieve the Triple Billion targets for improving health of all by 2023.

Triple billion Targets: The goals of the Triple Billions are simple and straightforward. By 2023, WHO proposes to achieve:   

  • 1 billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage   
  • 1 billion more people better protected from health emergencies   
  • 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being. 
  • Replenishment Mechanism:
    • Member states welcomed a new replenishment mechanism to provide flexible funding options for the WHO.
    • Currently, the majority of WHO's funds come from specific voluntary contributions, leaving little flexibility for shifting funds as needed.
    • The replenishment mechanism aims to raise voluntary contributions to cover the unfunded portion of WHO's base segment and ensure financial sustainability.

WHO Funding:

  • Assessed contributions:
    • Calculated as a percentage of a country's gross domestic product.
    • Account for less than 20% of the total budget of WHO
    • Approved every two years at the World Health Assembly.
  • Voluntary contributions:
    • Account for more than three quarters of the Organization's financing.
    • Come from Member States and other partners.
    • Further categorized based on flexibility:
      • Core voluntary contributions (CVC):
        • Fully unconditional and flexible, representing 4.1% of all voluntary contributions.
      • Thematic and strategic engagement funds:
        • Partially flexible, representing 7.9% of all voluntary contributions in 2020-2021.
      • Specified voluntary contributions:
        • Tightly earmarked to specific programmatic areas and/or geographical locations, representing 88% of all voluntary contributions.
  • Pandemic Response Funding:
    • WHO receives additional funding from various sources in response to global health emergencies, including pandemics.
    • The Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund was established during the COVID-19 pandemic to receive contributions from governments, organizations, and individuals.
  • India’s Participation:
    • Emphasized the importance of collaboration and resilient global health systems.
    • Highlighted India's contribution of 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to over 100 countries.
    • Stressed the significance of traditional systems like Yoga and Ayurveda.
    • Mentioned the establishment of WHO's Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India.
    • Supported the G20 theme of 'One Earth, One Family, One Future'.
    • Shared India's achievements in healthcare and the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
    • Expressed willingness to support WHO in low and middle-income countries.
    • Highlighted India's contributions in Medical Value Travel and commitment to Tuberculosis elimination.
    • Emphasized the 'Heal by India' initiative, promoting AYUSH treatments globally.
    • Stressed the importance of inclusive growth and healthcare for all.

Source: DTE

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