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Friday, May 24, 2024

UN: the agency in charge of health celebrates its 75th anniversary

The 76th World Health Assembly will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 21 to 30, 2023. Its theme is: "Saving lives, promoting health for all". This is a particularly important year, as the WHO celebrates its 75th anniversary. For over a week, representatives of the 194 member states will be discussing current and future priorities for public health issues of global importance. At the opening ceremony, Congolese Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum and Belgian Professor Peter Piot received awards for their tireless commitment to health.

The decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Assembly is held once a year in Geneva, Switzerland, where the organization's headquarters are located. During this meeting, representatives from 194 countries take part in a series of round-table discussions on health issues, in the company of partner institutions, representatives of civil society and WHO experts.

75th Anniversary

On April 7, 2023, the World Health Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations system, celebrated its 75th anniversary. Indeed, it was in 1948 that 53 countries founded the WHO to promote health, safeguard global security and serve the vulnerable - so that people everywhere can enjoy the highest possible level of health and well-being.The Organization's 75th anniversary year is an opportunity to look back at the advances in public health that have helped improve people's quality of life over the past seven decades. It is also an opportunity to call for action to meet the health challenges of today and tomorrow.

Walk the Talk

To kick off the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA), the4th edition of Walk the Talk took to the streets of Geneva on Sunday morning. The event aims to promote solidarity, exercise and physical and mental health. As every year, Dr Tedros, WHO DG, led the marchers in a 3 km walk. Special activities were organized by Geneva's leading sports clubs, the University Hospitals of Geneva and others. The event also featured British-Rwandan dancer-choreographer Sherrie Silver, Norwegian hip-hop group The Quick Style, Kenyan nurse Lukresia Robai, and the Global Scrubs Choir, a choir made up of caregivers. Kenyan running legend Paul Tergat and two-time Olympic champion Derartu Tulu led a running master class with participants.

Opening ceremony

Thanks to the moderation of Dr. Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh, Djibouti's Minister of Health and President of the 75th WHA, many Heads of State and Government took part in the official opening of the Assembly via video. Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation and Swiss Minister of Health, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt Hon Jacinda Arder, the Head of the Moroccan Government, Aziz Akhannouch, and Gianni Infantino, President of the Fédération Internationale de Football (FIFA), were all in attendance.

Busy schedule

The 76th WHA will determine WHO's immediate and long-term future. It will begin with validation of the program budget for the next two years, key decisions on sustainable funding for the agency, and changes to improve WHO's processes and accountability. Delegates will also consider WHO's essential role in the global health emergency architecture. The Assembly will also review the progress, achievements and challenges of 2022. Future priorities in the main pillars of WHO action - universal health coverage, emergency situations, and the promotion of health and well-being - will also be discussed.

WHO Prize

Established in 2019, the WHO Director-General's Awards for Leaders were presented by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to two eminent scientists at the opening session of the 76th World Health Assembly on Sunday, May 21. The recipients, Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and his Belgian colleague Peter Piot, are public health leaders who were closely involved in the discovery of the Ebola virus disease and the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Professor Muyembe-Tamfum is Director General of the DRC's National Institute for Biomedical Research, Full Professor of Microbiology at the University of Kinshasa's Faculty of Medicine and first President of the Congolese Academy of Sciences. Professor Piot is currently Special Advisor to the President of the EC, and former Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.