76th ‘World Health Assembly’ kicks off today

The 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) started in Geneva, Switzerland today where Bangladesh delegation led by Health Minister Zahid Maleque would emphasise on primary health care.

This year’s theme of the assembly is “WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all” which motto is “Health for All”.

Pointing out this year’s WHA is very important for Bangladesh, the minister said, “The significance of this session is slightly different. The organisation took the opportunity to review public health progress over 75 years to look back at how much progress has been made and how much living standards have improved over the past seven decades.” 

“So, primary health care issues would be more emphasised this year,” the minister told BSS.

Along with strengthening primary health care in 2023, there is also a strong focus on ensuring urgent health care for people around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has taken steps to help millions of people facing emergencies and has appealed to the United Nations for $2.5 billion to ensure emergency health care for people around the world. 

Among these emergencies, the corona pandemic and the overlapping outbreaks of deadly diseases such as measles and cholera have highlighted as those are the massive threats to health systems. A record of 339 million people, nearly more than in 2022, in the worldwide would need emergency assistance this year, according to the United Nations.

According to experts, right to health is a fundamental part of our human rights. The conference will play a vital role in helping to formulate policies for the country in the implementation of an integrated health system to ensure the health of the entire population with emphasis on public health, they added. 

The conference should also ensure continued dialogue among world leaders and sustainable approaches to strengthening primary health care in order to secure health for all, the health experts opined.

“However, the goal of primary health care is prevention, not cure. That’s why the elimination of infectious diseases from large populations through promotion of healthy lifestyles, disease prevention research and detection of infectious diseases, increase in average human life expectancy,” Health Minister Zahid Maleque said.

“Primary health care plays an important role in health protection including reducing the incidence and prevalence of neonatal diseases, infant mortality, establishing a healthy environment, enhancing individual self-care and self-management skills, prioritising health services for at-risk communities, mitigating preventable health risk factors,” he added.

Clinical psychologist, Chairman of Souchna Foundation and National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh Saima Wazed scheduled to attend a session of mental health at the conference.

secretary of Health Services Division Dr Md Anwar Hossain Howlader, Additional Secretary of Health Care Department, Saidur Rahman, Director General of the Department of Health Education Professor Dr Md Titu Mia, and Director General of the Department of Health Services Professor Dr Ahmedul Kabir will be present, among others.

The first day (Saturday) of the conference was inaugurated at 2pm. On the day, Health Minister Zahid Maleque will hold a bilateral meeting with the Health Minister of Indonesia in the afternoon. 

The conference will end on 30 May.

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