The 60th World Health Assembly came to a close yesterday evening with agreement concerning “two key resolutions”. One concerns global preparation for a ’flu pandemic and the other the protection of intellectual property.
Addressing representatives from Member States, Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO, was keen “to stress the importance of this decision regarding ’flu virus exchange mechanisms and access to pandemic vaccines. My responsibilities in implementing the International Health Regulations depend on this exchange”.
Under this last resolution, the WHO has been asked to “build up an international stock of vaccines against the H5N1 virus and other ’flu viruses with pandemic potential”. It is also to develop devices and guidelines to ensure, should the case arise, a fair and equitable distribution of the vaccines at affordable prices”.
The WHO also points out that this Assembly has adopted a “record number of resolutions on public health issues” - malaria, tuberculosis and polio - but also on “the improvement of medicines for children”, the rational use of medicines, trauma and emergency care systems, health information systems, etc.
The 60th Assembly has also approved the largest WHO budget to date: 4.2 billion US dollars for the period 2008-2009, which represents an increase of practically 25% compared with 2006-2007. This sum covers the “regular” WHO budget - ie the obligatory contributions made by Member States - and voluntary donations. The latter - which come from States but also from foundations and other public and private sources - has risen greatly in recent times.
“The new budget illustrates the continuing trend toward increased investment in public health on a global scale. It will enable the WHO to provide countries with better support”, the Organisation points out.