SWITZERLAND — The 76th World Health Assembly, held in Geneva, Switzerland, has brought to the forefront pressing issues related to the health and well-being of women, children, and the profound impact of climate change on global health.
With a sense of urgency, global leaders and health experts have emphasized the need for immediate action and intensified efforts to address these interconnected challenges.
A major focus of the assembly has been the presentation of a progress report on the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030).
This crucial report calls upon countries to step up their commitment to investing in essential interventions, specifically family planning and postnatal care, to effectively reduce maternal and child mortality rates.
Shockingly, despite progress in Southeast Asia, most regions of the world have witnessed either stagnant or increasing rates of maternal and child mortality.
This distressing trend underscores the urgent need for improved access to sexual and reproductive health services, as well as comprehensive prenatal care to prevent these avoidable deaths.
Latin America and the Caribbean region, in particular, face significant challenges, with nearly 8,400 women losing their lives each year due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.
Tragically, the burden falls disproportionately on disadvantaged women and those from minority ethnic backgrounds. A staggering 90% of these deaths could be prevented with enhanced care and support.
The discussions at the World Health Assembly have brought renewed attention to the necessity of revitalizing efforts to reduce maternal mortality, with a specific focus on vulnerable populations, and promoting mental health initiatives for adolescents.
Underpinning these efforts is the WHO’s Global Strategy, which serves as a comprehensive roadmap for countries to eradicate preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths, including stillbirths, by 2030.
The strategy also aims to enhance the overall health and well-being of women, children, and adolescents across the globe.
The World Health Assembly serves as a vital platform to reinforce the significance of this strategy and advocate for increased investment, improved policies, and strengthened health systems to achieve its ambitious goals.
Simultaneously, the assembly has highlighted the inextricable link between climate change and health.
The Strategic Roundtable on the role of the health community in climate action underscored the profound implications of climate change on public health.
Climate-related phenomena, such as extreme weather events, including hurricanes and floods, and the emergence of infectious and vector-borne diseases, have intensified in recent years.
The consequences of these phenomena are particularly acute in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean, which face the brunt of climate change impacts despite contributing only a minuscule fraction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The World Health Assembly has provided a crucial platform to amplify the voices of these vulnerable nations and call for global solidarity in addressing climate change.
Participants in the roundtable emphasized that health should serve as a compelling argument to galvanize action on climate change.
As the world prepares for COP28, it is imperative to recognize the integral role of the health sector in climate resilience and mitigation efforts.
Health systems must be strengthened to effectively respond to climate-related challenges and protect communities from the health risks posed by a changing climate.
The discussions at the World Health Assembly have sent a resounding message: urgent and coordinated action is required to safeguard the well-being of women, children, and the planet.
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