The 72nd World Health Assembly, which meets in Geneva, Switzerland, every year in May, ended its week-long run on Tuesday, May 28. In a current article on the NPR website, the author examines some of the issues that were discussed at the influential gathering.
With 194 World Health Organization member states represented there, the annual World Health Assembly had a broad spectrum of topics on its agenda. Among the topics of special interest were universal health coverage, and transparency by pharmaceutical companies in reporting the real cost of medicines.
A resolution that was proposed by Italy would require pharmaceutical companies to publicly report the costs of medical research and product development. If countries had access to the development costs of medicines, they would be in a better position to negotiate for lower drug prices.
A disease named Chagas, which is known as the “kissing bug,” was discussed and acted upon by this year’s World Health Assembly. The century-old disease is predominantly found in Latin America, and thousands of people there die from it every year. A yearly day of awareness regarding the disease was established, and a updated treatment strategy was developed.
More than five million people worldwide are bitten by snakes every year, and thousands of people die from snake bites. At this year’s World Health Assembly, the members put into effect a new strategy of prevention and control concerning an overlooked, tropical snakebite disease.
An interesting and unusual aspect of this year’s World Health Assembly actually took place on May 19, the day before the start of the event. Approximately 1,000 assembly participants ran and walked through Geneva, in an effort to promote the event’s healthy living philosophy.
Among the dignitaries who attracted the most attention at the 2019 World Health Assembly were Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of Kenya, and Queen Mathilde of Belgium.