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Summary and outcome of the 142nd session of the WHO Executive Board

WHF recently attended the 142nd session of the Executive Board Meeting in Geneva. Below you will find a brief overview of some of the key outcomes of the meeting.

Agenda Item 3.1: Draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work
WHO Member States adopted a Resolution which recommended the Draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work (GPW13) for adoption at the 71st World Health Assembly in May 2018. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked those who contributed to putting together the GPW, saying: ‘this is a document that belongs to all of us’.

Agenda Item 3.8: Preparation for the Third UN High-level Meeting on NCDs in 2018
The Executive Board noted the WHO’s report on progress towards achieving targets on the prevention and control of NCDs agreed at the previous High-level Meeting in 2014. Many countries suggested that this report – along with the Montevideo Roadmap agreed in in Uruguay in October 2017 – be used as a base for UN and country discussions for the Third High-level Meeting in 2018.

Assistant Director-General for NCDs, Dr Svetlana Akselrod, encouraged governments to align plans for the meeting with that of the First High-level Meeting on Tuberculosis – also scheduled for 2018.

Agenda Item 4.2: Physical activity for health
The EB adopted a Resolution recommending that countries endorse a new Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA) for the years 2018-2030. WHO noted that they would update the GAPPA in advance of the World Health Assembly following several recommendations from countries during EB discussions.

Agenda Item 5.8: Appointment of the Regional Director for the Americas
One key update for WHF Members in the PAHO Region is that Dr Carissa Etienne’s reappointment as Regional Director for the Americas has been confirmed. Dr Etienne, who will serve for a second term of five years beginning from 1st February 2018, made a powerful intervention to highlight inaction on NCDs, saying: ‘I want to ring the alarm bell – this is an unprecedented catastrophe. The equivalent of 99,000 jumbo jets loads of people die every year from NCDs. If that happened all at once, alarm bells and outrage would reverberate around the world. Why is that not happening?”

Click on the tabs below for a detailed summary of these and other key agenda items.

Agenda Item 2: Dialogue with the Director-General

On the first morning of the Executive Board meeting, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he would write to the Heads of State of every WHO Member State to seek their support in three areas:

  1. Countries to announce commitments and concrete actions at the forthcoming World Health Assembly to outline how they will make progress towards universal health coverage;
  2. Countries to commit personnel and resources to finance a ‘global health reserve army’, which could be deployed within 72 hours anywhere in the world to respond to health emergencies;
  3. Countries to commit to un-earmarked funding for WHO, to allow the organization to “put countries at the centre and drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Agenda Item 3.1: Draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work

WHO Member States adopted a Resolution which recommended the Draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work (GPW13) for adoption at the 71st World Health Assembly in May 2018; WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked those who contributed to putting together the GPW, saying: ‘this is a document that belongs to all of us’.

The Draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work (GPW13) is a strategic document that will guide WHO’s work for the years 2019-2023. It sets out three Strategic Priorities: advancing universal health coverage, addressing health emergencies, and promoting healthier populations. NCDs, including CVD, stroke and other circulatory diseases, are one of five ‘platforms’ under ‘healthier populations’.

WHF’s response to the previous draft of GPW13 addressed the document’s lack of clarity regarding which NCD targets and indicators were now considered most relevant to the work of WHO and its partners. It also recommended the inclusion of indicators to measure coverage of access to NCD medicines and technologies, and on physical activity.

The most recent draft GPW13 placed emphasis on the prevention of NCDs, and included references to risk factors such as tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet. WHF’s statement to the Executive Board supported this emphasis, however it also urged WHO and its Member States not to overlook the issue of equitable access to safe and affordable NCD treatments.

The Executive Board considered a financial estimate for the GPW13, which amounted to $10.8 billion over the course of five years (2019-2023). However it was noted that the adoption of a Resolution on GPW13 did not signify that governments had endorsed this proposed budget.

You can read WHF’s statement to the Executive Board on this item here.

Next steps:

A new impact framework to measure GPW13 was not considered at the Executive Board; the WHO Secretariat stated that they would provide information on metrics between February-April, and that a new impact framework would be released.

Agenda Item 3.6: Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines

The Executive Board adopted a Resolution asking the Secretariat to develop a Roadmap report – in consultation with Member States – to be submitted to the 144th Executive Board in 2019 and to the 72nd World Health Assembly in the same year.

Member State comments included requests for an essential diagnostics list, appeals for a pooled procurement facility; greater transparency on pricing and on research and development, more technical support for TRIPS flexibilities, and the need to address falsified medicines and increase local production of quality-assured medicines.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized the importance of this issue, saying: ‘without access to medicines, we won’t achieve universal health coverage’.

You can read WHF’s statement to the Executive Board on this item here.

Agenda Item 3.8: Preparation for the Third UN High-level Meeting on NCDs in 2018

The Executive Board noted the WHO’s report on progress towards achieving targets on the prevention and control of NCDs agreed at the previous High-level Meeting in 2014. Many countries suggested that this report – along with the Montevideo Roadmap agreed in in Uruguay in October 2017 – be used as a base for UN and country discussions for the Third High-level Meeting in 2018.

Assistant Director-General for NCDs, Dr Svetlana Akselrod, encouraged governments to align plans for the meeting with that of the First High-level Meeting on Tuberculosis, a proposal which was also supported by a number of Member States. Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on governments to ratify the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control Protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products by July 2018.

Next Steps:

  • UN Member States’ review of the Secretary-General’s progress report on NCDs (scheduled for February).
  • Negotiations on the modalities resolution for the HLM (later in February).

Updates:

  • The Bloomberg Fiscal Policy Commission on NCDs was launched on January 16th; it will research and release a report and then a business case on fiscal interventions for NCDs.
  • An updated timeline for the UN HLM Preparatory Process has been released by WHO and is available here.
  • The updated timeline suggests that an Interactive Hearing for Civil Society & Private Sector will take place in May.

You can read WHF’s statement to the Executive Board on this item here.

Agenda Item 4.2: Physical activity for health

The EB adopted a Resolution recommending that countries endorse a new Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA) for the years 2018-2030. WHO noted that they would update the GAPPA in advance of the World Health Assembly following several recommendations from countries during EB discussions.

Member States were in broad agreement with the strategic objectives set out in the most recent draft; among their comments were requests for the estimated cost of the GAPPA’s proposed actions for LMICs and HICs, and also for an inclusive process when developing a monitoring and evaluation framework. Countries also warned of the need to create healthy environments and to guard against industry interference, whereby physical activity is promoted at the expense of action to address risk factors such as alcohol, salt and sugar.

WHF strongly supported the revised target of a 15% relative reduction in physical inactivity among adults and adolescents, as it builds on pre-existing targets in the NCD Global Monitoring Framework and offers each Member State a concrete and context-specific national-level target to aim for. You can read WHF’s Statement to the Executive Board on physical activity here.