WHO DG Chan Addresses World Health Assembly; HHS Secretary Sebelius Speaks At Plenary Session

“Opening the 65th annual World Health Assembly (WHA) [on Monday in Geneva], World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said she sees a bright future for health development, despite financial crises that many countries are facing, which has shrunk support for many initiatives,” CIDRAP News reports. According to the news service, “Chan said the WHO can leverage its leadership role to make the most of small and wise investments” and that “[u]niversal health coverage is the best way to maintain health gains that have been made over the past decade” (Schnirring, 5/21). Focusing on innovations that bring social benefit rather than profit, as well as research and development into new treatments, also are important, Chan noted, Devex reports (Ravelo, 5/22).

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius addressed a plenary session on Monday, “agreeing with Chan on the importance of access to health care and addressing the growing problem of [non-communicable diseases (NCDs)],” Intellectual Property Watch reports. “But she also said that beyond the importance of providing care to all, promoting policies to prevent NCDs is essential,” according to the news service, which adds, “She said that in the U.S., a new national strategy is putting the importance of prevention higher up in policymaking priorities” (New, 5/21).