As he enters his third year as Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus once again affirmed his commitment to UHC during opening remarks at the 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA), in which he provided many examples of how countries are taking steps towards realizing this ambition.
- Echoing Astana[i], Dr Tedros highlighted the importance of primary healthcare: “…there can be no UHC without primary healthcare” to treat NCDs, outbreaks of infectious diseases, as well as the “power of vaccines” in addressing many of these challenges from an early age.
- Following a lengthy period of decline in the production of antivenoms, a new strategy for tackling snakebites has been published, with a boost in funding anticipated, while the spread of the latest outbreak of Ebola has been limited by a new vaccine.
Global Strategy and New Priorities
- One of the most notable outcomes of the Assembly included the adoption by Member States of a new global strategy on health, environment and climate change and with a commitment to invest in safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities. Affordability also featured and following calls for greater transparency in the pricing of medicines, vaccines and health products, member states adopted a landmark agreement to this end. In addition, members agreed to a shared approach to antimicrobial resistance, which was fantastic given our current Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship Programme.
- Patient safety was identified as a global health priority with the adoption of the 11th Edition of the International Classification of Diseases and three resolutions on UHC were agreed: a focus on primary healthcare, the role of community health workers and the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage which will take place in New York in September 2019.
From Migration to Mobility
- With the 18 million shortfall in health workers challenging our ambition to reach UHC by 2030 workforce many discussions centred around this theme with Dr Tedros highlighting the significance of this: “It is imperative that all countries close this gap by investing in jobs that deliver health for all.” This a theme which will be explored in more detail in THET’s new report on the migration and mobility of the health workforce, which is due to be published in July 2019.
The power of working in partnership was also stressed and I was pleased to have the opportunity to catch-up with our colleagues whom we work with in partnership here at the WHO. Talking global surgery with Walt Johnson, medical equipment with Adriana and workforce with Dr Jim Campbell and Ibadat Dhilon.