World Health Organization 66th WHA Closes Today: Universal Health Coverage And Mental Health Key Topics



The 66th World Health Assembly (WHA) closed today in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization and meets annually in Geneva. After seven days of intense discussions, they concluded with agreement on a range of new public health measures and recommendations aimed at “securing greater health benefits for all people, everywhere”.

At the closing ceremony yesterday, the President of the 66th World Health Assembly, Dr Shigeru Omi, stated: “Together we achieved a lot,” said Dr Omi. “One of the key outcomes of this Assembly is the universal health coverage that is now recognized as the key concept to underpin the work of global health in many years to come.”

The fact that universal health coverage (UHC) for every nation is a top priority for WHO/WHA shows the gravity of this problem and its seriousness. The US ought to be leading by example for the world instead of being another ball-and-chain country.

Mental health was again a key topic.

As healthcare professionals it’s easy to become narrow-sighted and to only be concerned about what’s at stake in the US. But it’s important to see health as a global issue. All nations influence the health of each other.

See below for the resolution summaries of UHC and mental health, plus a link to the conference site.


Mental Health Action Plan: 2013-2020

A resolution on WHO’s comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2020 sets four major objectives: strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health; provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings; implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health, and strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health. The plan sets important new directions for mental health including a central role for provision of community-based care and a greater emphasis on human rights. It also emphasizes the empowerment of people with mental disabilities and the need to develop strong civil society and health promotion and prevention activities. The document proposes indicators and targets such as a 20% increase in service coverage for severe mental disorders and a 10% reduction of the suicide rate in countries by 2020 that can be used to evaluate levels of implementation, progress and impact.

Universal health coverage

The WHA adopted a resolution on the importance of educating health workers as part of universal health coverage. Member States expressed their ongoing commitment to ensuring that all people obtain the health services they need without the risk of financial ruin. They emphasized that universal health coverage is not just about health financing but requires strong health systems to provide a range of quality, affordable services at all levels of care.

Member States expressed strong support for WHO’s action plan and reiterated their call for a monitoring framework to help them to track progress towards universal health coverage. Many delegates expressed support that universal health coverage should feature in the post-2015 development agenda.

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