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The 2011 World Health Assembly

Participating in international health meetings is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

In May, 2011, Sister-Doctor Elizabeth Vadakekara, our Assistant Society Coordinator, attended the 64th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. She also participated in the annual meeting of the NGO (non-government organization) Health Forum.

The WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). About 2700 delegates from 193 countries attended the Assembly. Opening remarks were given by Doctor Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO; Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Discussions focused on:
–    A framework to improve global preparedness for future pandemics.
–    The prevention of noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, which contribute to more than 60% of deaths worldwide.
–    Strengthening health systems to achieve the Millenium Development Goals.
–    Vision, strategy and progress in achieving global immunization goals.
–    A plan for maternal, infant, and young child nutrition.
–    New resolutions on child injury prevention.
–    Sustaining and expanding gains made on the problem of malaria.
–    Support of the UN’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.
–    A new, comprehensive strategy to combat HIV.
–    Work on the problems of cholera, water-borne diseases (which kill two million people each year), guinea-worm disease, and polio.
Young people (10-24 years old) currently represent one quarter of the world’s population, and Member States agreed to focus on preventing health risks specifically associated with this age group. They also welcomed the priority the WHO has placed on protecting health from climate change, and acknowledged the need to better handle chemicals and waste management to protect public health.

July 15, 2011