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German Chancellor Merkel, WHO Director-General Chan Open WHA, Speak About WHO Reform, Health Emergency Preparedness, Drug Resistance

News outlets report on the opening of the World Health Assembly, taking place this week in Geneva.

Agence France-Presse: World must step up fight against antibiotic resistance: Merkel
“…In an address in Geneva, [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel stressed the interconnectedness of global health systems, insisting all nations must work together to root out the problem of antimicrobial resistance — when bugs become immune to existing drugs…” (5/18).

Associated Press: Merkel: Global catastrophe plan needed after Ebola crisis
“The Ebola crisis in western Africa showed the world in a painful way that a global catastrophe plan is needed to deal with future epidemics, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday…” (Grieshaber, 5/18).

The Guardian: Plan to reform WHO after Ebola to be unveiled by Angela Merkel
“…There are two urgent issues that must be addressed in the interest of all nations, she believes — the response to the event of a pandemic and the fading powers of antibiotic drugs because of global overuse. She intends to push forward on both issues at the G7, which Germany chairs, in the summer…” (Boseley, 5/18).

Intellectual Property Watch: World Health Assembly Opens: Time Of Change At WHO; G7 Involved
“‘The Ebola outbreak shook this organization to its core,’ World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan said in opening the WHO’s annual assembly [Monday]. And the need to better construct the world’s emergency response systems has the biggest economies on the podium, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking as chair of the Group of 7…” (New, 5/18).

New York Times: WHO Leader Outlines Changes in Response to Ebola Epidemic
“…As expected, Dr. Chan proposed an overhaul of the organization’s emergency response system, intended to make it faster and more effective. The measures would create a dedicated health emergency work force reporting to the director, with a $100 million contingency fund, and would streamline the organization’s procedures for hiring staff, purchasing supplies, and moving them swiftly to where they are needed…” (Cumming-Bruce, 5/18).

Reuters: WHO boss Chan launches $100 million health emergency fund
“…Admitting that the WHO had been ‘overwhelmed’ by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Chan also told its annual meeting that she was creating a new program for health emergencies linking its three levels — country, regional, and Geneva headquarters…” (Nebehay, 5/18).

U.N. News Centre: Citing ‘defining moment’ sparked by Ebola outbreak, U.N. health agency chief pledges key reforms
“…Dr. Chan said she is establishing a global health emergency workforce, strengthening WHO’s core and surge capacity of trained emergency response staff, developing new business processes to facilitate a rapid and effective response, proposed options for a new $100 million contingency fund, and setting clear performance metrics for the program, built on partnerships with other responders…” (5/18).

VOA News: WHO to Create New Program for Health Emergencies
“… ‘The buck stops with me,’ [Chan] said. ‘As a responsible leader, you need to learn the lesson and make the right changes … I am committed to build an organization that has the culture, the systems, and the resources to lead the response to outbreaks and other health emergencies’…” (Schlein, 5/18).

Wall Street Journal: WHO to Improve Disease-Outbreak Response by Year-End
“…The contingency fund will help the WHO avoid having to wait weeks or even month for donors to respond to appeals it puts out to help get responders and experts out into the field. But it is also dependent on donors. The fund will be financed by ‘flexible voluntary contributions,’ Dr. Chan said Monday…” (McKay, 5/18).

Washington Post: ‘Mega-disasters’ and other reasons why WHO director’s speech should scare you
“…One of the points [Chan] made was the apparent inverse correlation between the economy and health in recent years. ‘This is a unique time in history where economic progress is actually increasing threats to health instead of reducing them,’ Chan said. … To turn things around, Chan said, she urged countries to learn from lessons from the world’s ill-prepared response to Ebola and to move forward with developing an ambitious plan for health care development during United Nations talks later this year to develop a post-2015 agenda…” (Cha, 5/18).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.