Record number of decisions for
noncommunicable diseases and mental health
Delegates at the World Health Assembly approved a record number of recommendations relating to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancers, diabetes, heart and lung diseases, as well as to mental health, and their risk factors.
The move comes ahead of the fourth United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs to be held in 2025, in a drive to accelerate progress towards globally agreed NCD and SDG targets.
In addition to an agreed preparatory process in the lead-up to this meeting, measures to reduce deaths from NCDs include a new implementation roadmap. The roadmap aims to help Member States speed up action to support their populations and achieve the NCD-related targets in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Also agreed was a new action plan for the Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, a platform which brings together key stakeholders working to improve the NCD landscape, by strengthening multi-sector and multi-stakeholder action and collaboration to address NCDs and mental health.
Support to people living with NCDs in humanitarian emergencies
Delegates agreed recommendations on how to strengthen the design and implementation of policies (including those for resilient health systems and health services and infrastructure) to prevent and manage NCDs in humanitarian emergencies. Recent emergencies such as the conflict in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted how people living with NCDs are at particularly high risk, requiring special attention in emergency planning and response.
They provided a set of recommended actions for Member States, international, humanitarian partners, civil society, the private sector and for WHO to better address NCD emergency preparedness and response during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Actions for the WHO Secretariat include reviewing current NCD responses and strengthening WHO’s capacity to develop and disseminate normative products such as technical guidance on NCDs, to support countries in developing and implementing preparedness and national response plans for health emergencies. It will also be important to support procurement and deployment of NCD medicines and supplies such as insulin.
Recommendations on how to strengthen the design and implementation of policies, including those for resilient health systems and health services and infrastructure, to treat people living with noncommunicable diseases and to prevention and control their risk factors in humanitarian emergencies
First-ever global coverage targets for diabetes
For the first time, delegates at the World Health Assembly have supported the creation of global targets for addressing diabetes. The targets are part of a new comprehensive set of recommendations to strengthen and monitor national diabetes responses.
They include ensuring that by 2030, 80% of people living with diabetes have been diagnosed; 80% have good control of glycaemia; 80% of people with diagnosed diabetes have good control of their blood pressure; 60% of people with diabetes who are 40 years or older receive statins; and 100% all people with type 1 diabetes have access to affordable insulin and blood glucose self-monitoring. Diabetes is currently one of the top ten causes of death worldwide.
A landmark global strategy on oral health
While largely preventable, there were estimated to be more than 3.5 billion cases of oral diseases and other oral conditions globally in 2019. Despite affecting almost half the world’s population, to date there has been no global strategy on oral health.
Delegates agreed that such a global strategy is now necessary. It will inform the development of a new global action plan, including a framework for tracking progress with targets to be achieved by 2030, to be discussed during the World Health Assembly 2023. WHO will also publish its first ever global report on oral health later in 2022.
The global strategy on oral health sets a bold vision of universal coverage for oral health services by 2030. Key approaches include the setting of ambitious national responses, integrating oral health into primary health care and optimizing digital technologies.
New recommendations to prevent and manage obesity
World Health Assembly delegates have agreed new recommendations for the prevention and management of obesity over the life course and a set of related targets in a bid to halt the rise of obesity in children under 5, adolescents and adults by 2025 and to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.
They outlined actions to be taken by governments, society as a whole, and the WHO Secretariat, in order to reduce the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake in adults and children; to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates in the first 6 months up to at least 70%, and to reduce the global prevalence of physical inactivity by 15%. WHO has already developed a new plan to support Member States in accelerating action to stop obesity.
Improving the lives of people with neurological disorders
Delegates agreed a new intersectoral global action plan on epilepsy and other neurological disorders (including stroke, migraine, dementia and meningitis) that aims to improve access to care and treatment for people living with these conditions, while preventing new cases and promoting brain health and development across the life course.
Neurological disorders are the leading cause of disability-adjusted life years and the second leading cause of death globally. Despite the high global burden of neurological conditions, access to both services and support for these conditions is insufficient, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
The action plan will address the challenges and gaps in providing care and services for people with neurological disorders that exist worldwide and ensure a comprehensive, coordinated response across sectors.
Accelerating action to reduce alcohol-related harm
Delegates also agreed an action plan (2022-2030) to effectively implement the Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol as a public health priority.
The pace of development and implementation of alcohol policies has been uneven in WHO regions and countries. Since its endorsement 10 years ago, the resources and capacities for implementation of the WHO Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol have been inadequate to address the magnitude of the problem. As a result every 10 seconds a person dies from alcohol related harm.
The alcohol action plan proposes operational objectives and principles, key action areas for Member States, WHO Secretariat, international partners, CSOs and academia, as well as proposed measures for economic operators in alcohol production and trade. It contains a set of global targets, indicators and milestones for monitoring progress.
Supporting health and care workers
Delegates agreed to adopt the Working for Health Action Plan (2022-2030). The Action Plan, which was developed through a Member State-led process, sets out policy priorities to rapidly progress workforce capacity across three dimensions: planning and finance, education and employment, and protection and performance.
The protection of the workforce, a rising concern in all settings, is supported by the consensus for a Global health and care worker compact which sets out how to protect and safeguard the rights of health and care workers, in addition to promoting and ensuring decent working conditions.
The resolution recognizes the global progress to address health workforce shortages since 2016. WHO reports that the global shortfall has reduced to 15 million in 2020 and is projected to drop to 10 million by 2030. However, gains have not accrued equally across regions, limiting access to health services for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. WHO continues to urge all Member States to apply the precautionary principle before international recruitment of health workers from countries with severe workforce shortages.
A75/12 Human resources for health: Working for Health: draft –2030 action plan.
A75/13 Human resources for health: Global health and care worker compact
A75/14 Human resources for health: WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel: fourth round of national reporting
A75/15 Human resources for health: Global strategy on human resources for health: workforce 2030
Updated strategy for food safety
Delegates at the Health Assembly agreed to adopt the updated WHO Global Strategy for Food Safety 2022-2030, in order to strengthen national food safety systems. The update is to ensure food safety systems are modernized and multi-sectoral collaboration strengthened with a view to ensuring that all people consume safe and healthy food, thereby reducing the burden of foodborne diseases, which currently affect almost 1 in 10 people worldwide.
Member States are encouraged to either develop country implementation roadmaps or to reflect actions to implementation within existing food safety policies and programmes, and to allocate the necessary resources. The Director-General is also requested to report on progress biannually until 2030.
The strategy was put forward in consultation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, with Member States and with the World Organization for Animal Health.
Global Health for Peace Initiative
Delegates today requested that the Director-General consult with Member States and Observers on proposed ways forward for the implementation of WHO’s report on a new Global Health for Peace Initiative. The Initiative would aim to build on and develop new partnerships that drive forward the triple billion goals in conflict and/or fragile areas.
Suggested approaches include:
- WHO programmes achieving both health and peace dividends at the country level by mainstreaming the Health for Peace approach;
- Member States engaging in the Health for Peace Initiative through support or implementation; and
- WHO driving the Health for Peace agenda at both the operational and normative levels.
The World Health Assembly also requested a roadmap, to be developed in full consultation with Member States, Observers, other United Nations agencies and relevant non-State actors in official relations with WHO. This roadmap will be put forward for consideration next year by the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly through the 152nd session of the Executive Board.
More rapid changes to the International Health Regulations
Delegates agreed to amend the International Health Regulations (IHR) to reduce the time of entry into force of any future amendments from 24 to 12 months. A comprehensive process for addressing future amendments to the IHR was agreed earlier in the week.