IFPA at the 72nd World Health Assembly

30 May 2019


  • WHA72
Item 1 of 3

The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). Delegations from all 194 WHO Member States participate to the assembly and deliberate on WHO's priorities and policies. Strategies and health goals are set, and tasks assigned in order to reach those goals. WHA meets every year, once a year, in Geneva, Switzerland.

WHO and the WHA - an explainer

Advancing universal health coverage

In preparation of the upcoming United Nations High-level meeting on universal health coverage (UHC) later in the year (link to article), the 72nd World Health Assembly in 2019 dedicated ample space to UHC, with time on the official agenda as well as many side-events on the calendar advocating health for all.

UHC was repeatedly pictures as a political choice that is possible even in countries with limited resources (Japan is an example, as they achieved UHC when the country was poor). In the statements delivered by WHO Member States while discussing the agenda item related to UHC, countries reported the progress done in achieving UHC and noted present challenges (mainly related to financing UHC and difficulties in covering the entire population due to differences within the different regions of the same country).

Mental health, the "silent killer", and slow progress on NCDs

During a technical briefing organized by WHO, Dr. Tedros defined mental health conditions a ”silent killer”, pointing out that they are on the rise and one of the leading causes of disabilities. Support services in many countries are lagging behind, as mental health disorders have always been extremely neglected. After the inclusion of mental health in the 5x5 framework on NCDs, WHO is working on Best Buys for mental health: being mental health so strongly impacted by psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, IFPA will will pay close attention to these processes and take advantage of any opportunity we find to strongly support action on mental health.

Lastly, NCDs were part of the official WHO agenda and were discussed on Friday 24 May. IFPA followed the proceedings closely, considering our past and previous engagement with the NCD community. WHO Member States acknowledged that progress is slow and more work needs to be done. Africa highlighted the challenges in terms of access to services, inadequate capacities, lack of data, inadequate funding, economic impact of the preventive measures. Many WHO Member States applauded the inclusion of mental health in the 5x5 framework, especially Belgium, EU countries and Canada. Some countries placed focus on tobacco and alcohol (Thailand, Panama), others on prevention of NCDs (EU). Spain delivered an interesting statement including patients (“patient expectations should be taken into account”). There are diverging opinions on the role of the private sector in the prevention and control of NCDs: while some countries want to include the private sector in the discussion process (Argentina, Singapore, Peru), other are less open to this option (Norway).

IFPA's engagement

IFPA co-sponsored statements on the agenda items 11.5 - Universal Health Coverage; 11.7 - Access to medicines and vaccines and 11.8 Follow-up to the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.