70th World Health Assembly (WHA) kicks off in Geneva-based UN headquarters

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FILE - The United Nations headquarters building is pictured though a window with the UN logo in the foreground. VOA

Geneva, May 23, 2017: The 70th World Health Assembly (WHA), the main decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), opened at Geneva-based UN headquarters.

“Our joint work at the global level aims for the central objective of promoting health through the life course, as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the very highest political level in 2015,” said WHA’s newly-elected President Veronika Skvortsova on Monday.

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“The achievement of this central objective necessitates the creation of an integrated health-preserving environment that amalgamates all national, regional and global mechanisms in the public, intersectoral and official spheres, professional medical bodies, patients’ associations and the business community,” Xinhua quoted her as saying.

This year’s assembly will determine policies on a range of health issues, including medicines and health products, non-communicable diseases, health emergencies, as well as maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health.

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 A new WHO Director-General will also be elected as incumbent head Margaret Chan’s mandate comes to an end.

In her final opening address to the assembly as Director-General, Chan called on the assembly to make “reducing inequalities” a guiding ethical principle.

“WHO stands for fairness,” she said, adding that countries should also work to improve collection of health data and make health strategies more accountable.

Chan stressed the importance of continued innovation, noting that “meeting the ambitious targets in the Sustainable Development Goals depends on innovation.”

The assembly will last until May 31. (IANS)