Geneva. Obesity and diabetes, neurological diseases, HIV, viral hepatitis, nosocomial infections, antibiotic resistance, but also clinical studies – the delegates of the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA), the highest decision-making body of the WHO, have a comprehensive agenda in Geneva until Saturday processed including many new reports, initiatives and programs.
Far away from monkeypox, the delegates dealt with, among other things:
Diabetes: For the first time in its history, WHA delegates have agreed to work towards creating global goals to fight diabetes. The goals are an integral part of recommendations to strengthen and monitor national diabetes strategies – many countries do not even have one, Germany only adopted itss in 2019.
The WHO addresses the goals of ensuring by 2030 that 80 percent of people with diabetes are diagnosed, 80 percent of diagnosed diabetics have their glycaemia and blood pressure well under control, 60 percent of diabetics over the age of 40 are prescribed statins and, without exception, all type 1 diabetics have access to affordable insulin and self-monitoring systems.
obesity: To halt the sharp increase in obesity prevalence among the under-5s, adolescents and adults by 2025 and to eliminate all forms of malnutrition by 2030, the WHA has adopted new recommendations on obesity prevention and management.
Accordingly, the intake of free sugar in both children and adults should be reduced to a maximum of ten percent of the total food intake. A 70 percent breastfeeding rate for infants up to six months of age and a reduction in the rate of people who are physically inactive to 15 percent are also intended to remedy obesity. The WHO already has a plan in place to support member states in their efforts to combat obesity, it said in Geneva.
Neurological diseases: According to the will of the WHA delegates, more should be done worldwide by 2031, especially in terms of prevention and avoidance of premature deaths in connection with epilepsy, stroke, migraine, dementia and meningitis. Corresponding goals are laid down in an accredited global and cross-sectoral action plan, in the course of which the access of affected patients to adequate medical diagnostics and treatment is to be strengthened. According to the WHO, health systems in countries with low and middle-income countries in particular should focus more on neurological diseases, including mental health, across the entire lifespan.
oral health: With around one in two people on the planet suffering from oral health deficiencies, the WHA believes it is time to launch a global oral health strategy. Details of the roadmap, including the monitoring of the goals to be achieved by 2030, are to be addressed at the 76th WHA next year. The presentation of the first WHO report on oral health worldwide was also announced for this year in Geneva.
It is already known that the WHO intends to integrate oral health into the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which it advocates for many countries with deficient health infrastructure, which includes access to basic health services, especially health promotion and disease prevention, and the reduction of expenditure see out of pocket. The WHO is also banking on the potential of digital health technologies for oral health.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases: In the adopted global strategy 2022 to 2030, which addresses HIV, viral hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infectious diseases (STI), the elimination of these clinical pictures by the prevention of new cases of infection by the end of this decade is still being sought. Above all, the strategy is intended to help overcome the global cuts and setbacks in the fight against the pandemic. Specifically, the people affected, who are most affected and at risk, should be addressed and cared for in a way that is appropriate for the target group.
Infection Prevention and Control: As part of a decreed global strategy for infection prevention and control (IPC), the WHO addresses nosocomial infections and antibiotic resistance and gives the member states 13 recommendations. Among other things, they are asked to support the relevant authorities in ensuring that at least the minimum IPC requirements are implemented and monitored in programs at the national level, but also at the level of the individual healthcare facility. With reference to the sustainability goals of the United Nations, the implementation of the IPC measures should also consider the environment in order to keep the effects on people, animals and the environment as low as possible – in the form of appropriate waste management. In addition, all healthcare facilities should have access to clean water and appropriate sanitation infrastructure and resources. Likewise, the medical staff should be made familiar with IPC in defined curricula. Last but not least, the IPC in healthcare facilities should be strengthened at the regulatory level.
Clinical studies: While the discussions about clinical studies in Europe tend to be dominated by data protection hurdles and the still largely restricted secondary use of health data from healthcare (Real World Data/RWD), the WHA delegates in a resolution primarily address the member states, clinical studies apparently only little pay attention. In it, they call on the governments of all countries to see clinical trials as a key lever in order to strengthen their respective health systems.
The clinical studies are considered essential if one wants to achieve quality-based evidence on the safety and effectiveness of drugs, vaccines or other interventions. In the resolution, the WHO calls for more efficiency, better financing, but also the timely sharing of data in order to strengthen public-private cooperation, especially in the course of epidemic or pandemic management, as well as the regulatory and ethical frameworks in the countries concerned.
International Health Regulations: In the future, changes to the International Health Regulations (IHR) will come into force within 12 months – previously it was 24 months. In doing so, WHO aims to accelerate its crisis response time and to firmly position itself as the leading and guiding authority on global health, at the heart of the global health architecture. The IHR are internationally binding regulations of the WHO to prevent and combat the cross-border spread of diseases.