World Health Assembly report

29 May 2012 - ADI attended the WHO's World Health Assembly in Geneva from 21-26 May. ADI's presence this year was of particular importance as the agenda included a discussion on implementing a global strategy for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, following on from the United Nations High Level meeting last September. Marc Wortmann, Executive Director, and Jacob Roy, Chairman, represented ADI, along with Policy Adviser Mike Splaine.

ADI hosted a side event focussed on the recently launched WHO report on dementia. The highlights of the report, Dementia: a public health priority, were shared with the audience as well as recent progress in developing national plans for dementia and Alzheimer’s. Government representatives from several countries attended the event, along with representatives of WHO, other NGOs, and researchers.

Speaking at the event, Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the WHO, said, “The launch of this report marks a significant turning point in the fight against dementia. We urge governments to develop national Alzheimer’s and dementia plans, and the report gives them the tools to do so. Since dementia is directly linked to ageing, both the human and fiscal consequences of this disease rise exponentially as people live longer with each passing decade. The governments need to act now; before it is too late.”

Delegates at the World Health Assembly approved a resolution (EB130.R6) on strengthening non-communicable disease (NCD) policies to promote active ageing. The resolution urges Member States to encourage the active participation of older people in society, increase healthy ageing and promote the highest standard of health and well-being for older persons by addressing their needs.

A WHO committee discussed a global monitoring framework for the prevention and control of NCDs, including indicators and a set of global targets. Member States agreed to adopt a global target of a 25% reduction in premature mortality from non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases by 2025. Member States expressed support to adding further targets relating to obesity, fat intake, alcohol, cholesterol and health system responses such as availability of essential medicines for NCDs.

Dr Margaret Chan, who was appointed as WHO Director General for a second five-year term, said that chronic non-communicable diseases were one of her priorities in the next 5 years.

ADI representatives also attended side events held by HelpAge International, IAPO (International Alliance of Patients' Organizations) and the NCD Alliance.