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The 68th World Health Assembly

The 68th session of the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) was opened in Geneva yesterday, May 18th, and will be taking place until May 26th, 2015. The Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), and it is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States. Its main functions are to determine the policies of the Organization, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.

World Health Assembly 68 2015













© 2015 WHO/Violaine Martin

This year, with the Ebola outbreak still so fresh in everyone’s minds, a big focus of the Assembly will be on plans to create a new WHO programme for health emergencies, uniting outbreak and emergency resources across the 3 levels of the WHO.

Other major areas of discussion include climate change and health, the post-2015 development agenda, building resilient health systems and addressing the issue of antimicrobial resistance, with delegates urged to adopt the draft global action plan on antimicrobial resistance at the Assembly.

Resolutions and decision points will be made on issues such as epilepsy, the International Health Regulations, malaria, nutrition, polio, public health, innovation, and intellectual property, substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit medical products, surgical care and anaesthesia. And Delegates will review progress reports on a wide range of issues such as adolescent health, immunization, noncommunicable diseases, women and health, and WHO’s response in severe, large-scale emergencies.

To follow what is happening at the WHA, you can watch the live webcast of the event, or follow the hashtag #WHA68 on Twitter. You can also have a look at the provisional agenda for information on the breadth of topics discussed at the Assembly and to access the supporting documentation.

Key readings from Eldis:

Impact and implications of the Ebola crisis
B. Rohwerder (ed) / Governance and Social Development Resource Centre 2014
This Helpdesk Report responds to the following query: What are the political, economic, social and security implications of the Ebola crisis, with a particular focus on Sierra Leone? Political impact and implications: Ini...
Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance
World Health Organization 2014
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. This report examines the current status of surveillance and in...
The extent and impact of TB drug stock-outs
T Seunanden; C Day / Health Systems Trust, South Africa 2013
The limited supply of essential medicines has been a global challenge, with both developed and developing countries such as the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe experiencing challenges in drug supp...
Ebola Regional lesson learning
S. Thompson; L. Bolton / Health and Education Advice and Resource Team 2014
The Ebola outbreak currently affecting West Africa is the most serious trans-national medical emergency in modern times. It has the potential to become a global health crisis. Many of the countries affected already have weak health sy...
Addressing resistance to antibiotics in pluralistic health systems
G Bloom; A Wilkinson,; G Tomson, / STEPS Centre, Institute of Development Studies 2015
There is growing international concern about the threat to public health of the emergence and spread of bacteria resistant to existing antibiotics. An effective response must invest in both the development of new drugs and measures to...
Drug-resistant TB: surveillance and response
World Health Organization 2014
This document is a special supplement to the 2014 Global Tuberculosis Report. It marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Global Project on Anti-TB Drug Resistance Surveillance, and highlights the latest status...