74th World Health Assembly to convene with a target to end COVID-19

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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In a year when the pandemic threatens the health of people across the globe, the 74th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) will focus on the urgency of ending the current COVID-19 and preventing the next one by building a healthier, safer and fairer world.

The highest decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) will run virtually from May 24 to June 1, 2021 and it will be open to associate members, observers, invited representatives of the UN and other participating inter-governmental organizations, and non-State actors. 

The COVID-19 has affected all countries, but its impact has been harsh on those communities which were already vulnerable, more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic. 

Over the past year, COVID-19 cases rose 40-fold to 162 million globally, while the number of deaths has increased 11 times, to more than 3.3 million.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

“A crisis often brings out the best in people and organizations. From the WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan to our technical guidance, the Solidarity Trial, the UN Supply Chain Task Force, the OpenWHO.org learning platform and initiatives like the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, including its Covax partnership, and the Solidarity Response Fund, WHO has given countries effective and evidence-informed tools to prevent infections, save lives and maintain essential health services.”

Vaccine inequity is one of the most urgent issues, posing a threat to ending the pandemic and to global recovery, over 75 percent of all vaccine doses have been administered in only 10 countries, the lowest income countries have administered less than half a percent of global doses.

The 74th session of WHA will play a vital role in shaping the global health architecture of the future, and in strengthening WHO to fulfill its mission and mandate. The key focus of the Assembly’s agenda will be on the health-related Sustainable Development Goals and WHO’s Triple Billion targets of one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage.

The Assembly will also witness the presentation of three reports on COVID-19 response namely, the Health Emergencies Programme’s Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee (IOAC), the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and the Review Committee on the Functioning of the International Health Regulations (2005) during the COVID-19 Response.

Related: As the world accepts COVID-19 can spread through air, focus shifts to need for better ventilation