May 22, 2012

This week health ministers from around the world are meeting at the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly (WHA) to discuss health issues that impact people everywhere. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan opened the meeting on Monday by calling for universal health coverage.

“Universal health coverage is the best way to cement the gains made during the previous decade. It is the ultimate expression of fairness. This is the anchor for the work of WHO as we move forward,” said Dr. Chan.

This call for equity resonates strongly with our mission here at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and we applaud the focus world leaders are putting on the need for fair distribution of health services and technologies.

Each year at the WHA, senior health officials from the 194 WHO member states review the work of the WHO, set new goals and assign new tasks. A committee of delegates also meets to debate a set of technical resolutions. This year’s resolutions up for discussion (among several others) include intensification of polio eradication efforts, elimination of schistosomiasis, research and development for diseases of poverty and a draft Global Vaccine Action Plan to equitably reach all people everywhere with the vaccines they need.

Sabin Executive Vice President Dr. Ciro de Quadros has had a leading role as the Steering Committee Co-Chair of the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration, which coordinated the development of the draft Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) that will be presented at WHA later this week. The GVAP is a roadmap developed by multiple stakeholders involved in immunization—including governments and elected officials, health professionals, academia, manufacturers, global agencies, development partners, civil society, media and the private sector—to define collectively what the immunization community wants to achieve over the next decade.

Because discussions at WHA this week will set the tone for the global health agenda for the year ahead, it is promising that health ministers are putting a strong emphasis on improving health outcomes for people who are most in need.

We look forward to seeing the results of this week’s assembly and will be sure to share any key outcomes as they relate to improving education and access to vaccines and other treatments for preventable diseases impacting the world’s poorest.

Read more news from the sixty-fifth World Health Assembly here.