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"...a program budget for the next two years will be established, alongside critical deliberations relating to sustainable financing..."
On Sunday, in Geneva, Switzerland, the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) commenced and, as per a statement by the World Health Organization (WHO), has a primary focus on "saving lives, driving health for all."
As 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the WHO, this year's WHA will determine the organization's immediate and long-term future. During the WHA, a program budget for the next two years will be established, alongside critical deliberations relating to sustainable financing as well as reforms geared towards advancing WHO's processes and accountability.
Over the course of the 10-day conference, delegates will deliberate about the vital function of the World Health Organization within the framework of the Global Health Emergency Architecture.
The assembly shall conduct an assessment of the achievements, challenges, and advancements made in the previous year; in addition to outlining the future priorities regarding the key pillars of the WHO's work: Universal Health Coverage, Emergencies, Promoting Health and Well-being.
"These are daunting and complex challenges. We will not solve them at this World Health Assembly, and we may not solve them in our lifetimes.
But bit by bit, we are building a road that our children and grandchildren will walk down, and which they will continue to…
In a video speech at the opening ceremony of the assembly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, "Peace depends on health, disease in one nation endangers all, achieving the greatest possible health for everyone everywhere relies on cooperation."
According to Guterres, since the establishment of the WHO 75 years ago, substantial developments have occurred in the field of human health. Notably, the global average life expectancy has increased by over 50 percent, while infant mortality rates have decreased by 60 percent.
He also noted that the eradication of smallpox has been achieved, marking a significant achievement in global health efforts.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled and even reversed progress in public health. We risk further eroding the enormous gains made over the past decades and backsliding on Sustainable Development Goals," Guterres said.
"But this is not inevitable," said Guterres, calling on all to "continue to work together and to support the World Health Organization to achieve the highest standard of health for all."
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, reflected, during his address at the opening of the WHA, on the notable accomplishments that the organization has attained over the last 75 years.
"The road is meandering and rough, but the destination is sure," Tedros said when stating that the organization faces complex challenges as the world's expectations of the WHO have grown enormously.