At WHA, World Bank’s Kim Endorses UHC To End Extreme Poverty, WHO’s Fukuda Says World Unprepared For ‘Severe’ Disease Outbreak

In a speech delivered to the World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of the WHO’s governing body, “World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said universal health insurance coverage in all countries can help achieve a goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “Every country in the world can improve the performance of its health system in the three dimensions of universal coverage: access, quality and affordability,” Kim said, according to the news service (Bennett, 5/21). “Kim said the Bank Group would help countries tackle two major challenges as they advance toward universal health coverage: to ensure no family is forced into poverty because of health care expenses, and to close the gap in access to health services and public health protection for the poorest 40 percent of the population in every country,” and “[h]e outlined five specific ways the Bank Group will support countries in their drive toward universal coverage: ramping up analytic work and support for strengthening health systems; leading an effort to help countries reach Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 on maternal and child mortality; developing a monitoring framework for universal health coverage, together with the [WHO]; deepening work on the science of delivery; and stepping up efforts to  improve health through action in other sectors that affect whether people lead healthy lives,” a World Bank press release states (5/21).

Also at the meeting, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment Keiji Fukuda discussed the recent outbreaks of H7N9 bird flu in China and the novel coronavirus MERS in Saudi Arabia and “told delegates … that despite efforts since an outbreak of another form of avian influenza, H1N1, in 2009-10, far more contingency planning was essential,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Even though work has been done since that time, the world is not ready for a large, severe outbreak,” Fukuda said, the news agency states. “Rapid-reaction systems were crucial, given that health authorities’ efforts are already hampered by lack of knowledge about such diseases, he insisted,” AFP writes. Fukuda said, “This is an unusual global situation. … We have not seen a comparable situation since 2003, when we had both the SARS virus emerge and then later the H5N1 virus reemerge” (Fowler, 5/21).

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