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World Health Assembly (WHA)

Topic covered:

  1. Issues related to health.


World Health Assembly (WHA)


What to study?

For prelims: about WHA, Astana declaration and SDGs.

For mains: UHC- targets, challenges and measures needed.


Context: Delegates at the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva agreed on three resolutions to ensure that the world meets the universal health coverage (UHC) target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


These resolutions include:

  1. The member countries will decide to take measures to implement the Declaration of Astana vowing to strengthen primary healthcare and achieve universal health coverage by 2030. The declaration was adopted at the 2018 Global Conference on Primary Health Care. This marked the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Alma-Ata.
  2. To support community health worker programmes and allocate adequate resources. Such workers should be well-trained, effectively supervised and properly recognised for the work they do. At present there is a shortfall of 18 million in the number of health workers in the world and this could severely hamper the progress towards UHC.
  3. The member states shall push for UHC with focus on poor, vulnerable and marginalized individuals and groups. This will call for the involvement of governments in coordinating the work required across all sectors to achieve universal health coverage.


Need of the hour:

This might not be enough as primary health care is more than universal health care. WHA should take a human rights-based approach to health for a more just and caring world.


World Health Assembly (WHA):

  • The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the forum through which the World Health Organization (WHO) is governed by its 194 member states.
  • It is the world’s highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states.
  • The members of the World Health Assembly generally meet every year in May in Geneva, the location of WHO Headquarters.
  • The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.


What is Universal health coverage?

  • Universal health coverage (UHC) is about ensuring all people and communities have access to quality health services where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.
  • It includes the full spectrum of services needed throughout life—from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care—and is best based on a strong primary health care system.
  • Achieving UHC is one of the key targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Sources: down to earth.