The Minister of Health of the Republic of Maldives, Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed speaking with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dr Raisa Vasylivna Bogatyrova (centre).
Photo Credit: Ministry of Health, Ukraine

The Minister of Health of the Republic of Maldives, Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed, attended the 66th annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva this week.

The WHA is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.

In her opening address, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan reiterated the importance of transparent reporting and vigilance in disease outbreaks, including recent cases of novel coronavirus and influenza H7N9, whilst at the same time maintaining the momentum made in addressing long-standing health issues such as tuberculosis, HIV, malaria; the emerging problem of non-communicable diseases; and eradication of polio.

Referring to the two new diseases WHO is dealing with at the moment, Dr Chan said: "The current situation demands collaboration and cooperation from the entire world. A threat in one region can quickly become a threat to all."

On May 22, Dr Jamsheed delivered a speech to the WHA in which he passionately described the many challenges of health delivery in a small and remote island country such as the Maldives. Picking up on one of Dr Chan's points, he emphasized the vulnerability of a small island nation at a time of growing interdependence and globalization.

Said the Minister: "We live in a world of globalization, and development carries a direct impact on human health and, thus, national security and social justice. Protecting health allows individuals and societies to lead productive and fulfilling lives. With issues being multi-faceted, complex and interdependent, protecting health becomes "everybody's business" - expanding beyond the ministry's of health mandate and oftentimes outside of the boarders of a single sovereign country."

Among the many consultations held by Dr Jamsheed during the WHA was with the Minister of Health of Ukraine, Dr Raisa Vasylivna Bogatyrova.

Separately, on May 22, the WHA approved the proposed Programme Budget (PB) for WHO for the next biennium (2014-2015). The proposed total budget is established at the level of US$3977 million. It responds to Member States' request for a realistic budget based on the income and expenditure patterns followed till now and projected for the future.

The President of the WHA, elected on the first day, May 20, is Dr Shigeru Omi, Special Assistant for International Affairs, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan. Five vice-presidents were also appointed from Angola, Haiti, Nepal, Oman, and Ukraine, representing their respective regions.