WHO Conducts 73rd World Health Assembly
Virtual Meeting Ends with Global Commitment to COVID-19 Response
By: Allison Kozicharow; Edited by Jessie Crowdy
The World Health Organization (WHO) held the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly May 18–19 — its first-ever to be held virtually. Most low-resource countries and all developed countries attended the meeting. At the direction of the Trump administration, the United States did not participate.
The agenda focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and adopted a resolution by consensus to use the tool of global unity to fight the virus. More than 130 countries (excluding the United States, which has halted funding to the WHO) sponsored the resolution, which calls for the following actions:
- Intensification of efforts to control the pandemic
- Equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the virus
- An independent and comprehensive evaluation of the global response, including, but not limited to, WHO’s performance
In his opening remarks, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised nurses, midwives and all health workers for their contributions on the frontlines treating COVID-19 patients. He stated that the pandemic illustrates why health workers are so important (see sidebar).
Dr. Tedros said, “COVID-19 has robbed us of people we love; it has robbed us of lives and livelihoods; it has shaken the foundations of our world; it threatens to tear at the fabric of international cooperation. But it has also reminded us that for all our differences, we are one human race, and we are stronger together…. Let our shared humanity be the antidote to our shared threat.”
Preparing for Disease Outbreaks and Improving Daily Health:
WiRED International’s Community Health Worker Training Program
Community health workers (CHWs) play a vital role in global health on a daily basis as well as during an epidemic, especially in low-resource areas where doctors and medical professionals are absent or scarce.
In 2018, WHO issued guidelines for training CHWs and, in 2019, issued a Call to Action to address the 18 million CHW shortfall. In response, WiRED developed its Community Health Worker Training Program to provide workers with a health curriculum and continuing education on basic health issues, infectious and non-infectious illnesses and disease epidemics such as COVID-19.
WiRED first tested the program on the ground in Kenya and now is moving to test it in virtual classrooms in India, Nicaragua, Armenia and Peru.
To watch the video about the program, click here.