Landmark resolution for strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ health globally
The World Health Assembly today approved an unprecedented resolution on the health of Indigenous Peoples, which requests the Director-General to develop a global action plan for the health of indigenous peoples and to present it to the Seventy-ninth World Health Assembly in 2026.
Indigenous Peoples, although representing diverse population groups and communities, in general have considerably lower life expectancy than non-indigenous populations. They also have a higher prevalence of many diseases and adverse health conditions, including diabetes, maternal and infant mortality and malnutrition.
The Assembly requested the action plan be developed in consultation with Indigenous Peoples; that WHO provide support to Member States, upon request, for improving indigenous health; and that the improvement of Indigenous Peoples’ health be included in the development of the Fourteenth WHO General Programme of Work.
In the same resolution, the Health Assembly urged Member States to, among other tasks, develop knowledge about the health situation of Indigenous Peoples, with their free, prior and informed consent; develop, fund and implement national health plans, strategies or other measures for Indigenous Peoples; encourage the attraction, training, recruitment and retention of Indigenous Peoples as health workers taking into account the traditional knowledge and practices.
Health of Indigenous Peoples
First-ever resolution to accelerate action on drowning prevention
The delegates at the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly agreed a resolution to accelerate action on global drowning prevention. The resolution requests Member States to assess their national drowning situation and to develop and implement multisectoral drowning prevention programmes.
Drowning causes 236 000 deaths every year. It is a leading global cause of injury-related child deaths. Over the past decade, 2.5 million people died from drowning, and over 90% of those occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
At the invitation of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, WHO will coordinate actions within the UN system on drowning prevention and facilitate the observance of World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July each year.
WHO will also set up a Global Alliance for Drowning Prevention with organizations of the UN system, international development partners and nongovernmental organizations. To better understand the true burden and impact of drowning, the resolution further requests WHO to prepare a global status report on drowning prevention.
Accelerating action on global drowning prevention
Member States mobilize behind resolution to tackle chemicals, waste and pollution
Member States welcomed the resolution addressing environmental determinants, including management of chemicals and waste. The efforts can help prevent up to one fifth of all suicide-related deaths from highly hazardous pesticides.
Member States were urged to bolster the implementation of existing WHO strategies including implementation of the WHO Chemicals Roadmap which outlines key roles of the health sector in implementing the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management. The resolution also encourages the Ministries of Health to engage in efforts to prepare proposals for an intergovernmental science policy panel and negotiations for a treaty to end plastic pollution.
The resolution called upon the Director-General to undertake several actions, including: publishing a report on the health implications of chemicals, waste and pollution from a “One Health” perspective; updating the 2012 document on the State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals jointly with the United Nations Environment Programme; and supporting countries in developing national or regional human biomonitoring programmes for chemicals of concern.
The impact of chemicals, waste and pollution on human health
Achieving well-being: a global framework
Member States agreed to adopt the “Global framework for integrating well-being into public health utilizing a health promotion approach“, which strives to enable all people to flourish and achieve their full physical and mental health potential throughout their lives and across generations. The Global framework recommends six key strategic directions that focus on: universal health coverage, equitable economies, protecting the planet, social protection systems, digital systems to enable health, and measuring and monitoring well-being.
The framework proposes close collaboration with sectors outside the health sector to promote and protect health. It serves as a guide for all stakeholders to engage in a coherent and coordinated manner around a common purpose: promoting the health of people and planet in a sustainable and equitable manner.
The Assembly requests the Director-General to report on implementation of the global framework in 2024, 2026 and 2031.
Well-being and health promotion
New resolution to accelerate efforts on food micronutrient fortification
The delegates approved a resolution on accelerating efforts to prevent micronutrient deficiencies through safe and effective food fortification.
Deficiencies in vitamin and mineral status, particularly of folate, iron, vitamin A, and zinc, affect 50% of all preschool aged children and 67% of all women of reproductive age worldwide. Micronutrient deficiencies can have serious consequences, including spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
Large scale food fortification is part of the solution. By adding essential vitamins and minerals to staple foods and condiments, such as wheat and maize flours, rice, cooking oil and salt in accordance with national consumption patterns and deficiencies, countries can correct and further prevent a demonstrated micronutrient deficiency.
The resolution urges Member States to develop policies on food fortification with micronutrients and/or supplementation, and to consider ways of strengthening financing and monitoring mechanisms. The resolution was agreed under the umbrella of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) report.
Accelerating efforts for preventing micronutrient deficiencies and their consequences, including spina bifida and other neural tube defects, through safe and effective food fortification
Member States approve actions to counter substandard and falsified medicines
On 27 May, the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly approved a resolution to conduct an independent review of the Member State Mechanism (MSM) for incidents, substandard and falsified medicines, reinforcing the Director-General’s January 2023 call for increased vigilance and action in this important area. The review will be initiated at the next MSM steering committee meeting later in 2023.
The Assembly established the MSM in 2012 to tackle substandard and falsified medical products from a public health perspective and in a transparent and inclusive way. The goal of the MSM is to protect public health and promote access to affordable, safe, efficacious and quality medical products.
Noting recent events of contaminated medicines found on various markets and related preventable deaths, Member States emphasized the support needed to improve their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to substandard and falsified medical products through access to appropriate technologies, including laboratory testing facilities, along with improved oversight on informal markets and advertising, and the online sale of medical products.
Member States called for embracing and implementing track and trace technologies for market control and surveillance, as well as the need for formal collaboration by relevant local and global partners such as law enforcement and customs administrations. Member States were encouraged to align with conventions aimed at improvement of legislation and imposition of prohibitive sanctions for wrongful dealing in substandard and falsified medical products.
The Secretariat is requested to report on progress in this area to the Executive Board in 2025.
Substandard and falsified medical products
First ever resolution on behavioural sciences for better health is adopted
Today Member States adopted the behavioural sciences for better health resolution with Member States showing broad consensus towards the need for integrating systematically behavioural science theory, methods and approaches across health topics and public health functions.
The resolution urges Member States to acknowledge the role of behavioural science in achieving better health outcomes, to identify opportunities for increased use and, to establish functions and units for generating and translating evidence to inform policies and programmes. It also requests the Director-General to mainstream the use of behavioural science within the organization and to provide support to Member States through the development of guidance and the provision of technical assistance.
Member States recognized the achievement of the Behavioural Sciences for Better Health Initiative led by the secretariat, congratulated Malaysia, sponsor of the resolution, as well as the other 19 countries that joined as co-sponsors, and thanked the Director-General for the report. They stressed the importance of building capacity in this area, particularly in regional offices, and of creating a repository of evidence and synergies between sectors, including with academia and the private sector.
Behavioural sciences for better health
Behavioural sciences for better health, Report by the Director-General
The above items were discussed as part of the document A76/7 Rev.1 – Consolidated report by the Director-General.