News and Opinions  –  2017

Recap of WHO 140th Executive Board meeting

2017-02-09

The discussions on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at the World Health Organization's (WHO’s) 140th Executive Board meeting, had several interesting interventions from Member States on the key areas that the WHO was given responsibility over in the UNGA Political Declaration on AMR from September 2016.

The discussions on antimicrobial resistance at the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) 140th Executive Board meeting, which took place in Geneva on January 23 to February 1, had several interesting interventions from Member States on the key areas that the WHO was given responsibility over in the UNGA Political Declaration (PDF) on AMR from September 2016. These areas included the finalization of National Action Plans; the establishment of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG) and the finalization of the Framework on Development and Stewardship.  ReAct had developed a briefing ahead of the meeting with policy recommendations on these issues.

Only 32 countries have finalized their National Action Plans on AMR

During the discussions several countries noted with disappointment that only 32 countries had so far finalized their National Action Plans on AMR despite a clear commitment to have these in place before the World Health assembly 2017. Many therefore urged the WHO Secretariat increase technical support and countries to get the process started. Thailand noted encouragingly to colleagues in the room that action without funding is better than funding without actions.

Why delay in establishing the Inter-Agency Coordination Group?

Questions were also raised over the delay in the Secretariats work to establish the Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG). Malta, speaking on behalf on the EU, was most fierce in their intervention emphasizing the urgency of this work and requested that the IACG would be established and operational in first quarter of 2017. Outgoing Secretary General Margaret Chan took the floor at the end of the discussion and explained that work on the IACG is now ongoing after some delays, and that the Secretariat is currently looking for individuals to include in the IACG. In particular representatives from developing countries and female candidates were encouraged to be put forward by the Member States to ensure appropriate representation.

Access to effective antibiotics challenge in developing countries

As regards the Development and Stewardship Framework most countries reiterated its importance and for WHO Secretariat to move beyond providing options for how the Framework could look. Nepal emphasized that access to effective antibiotics is as big a public health challenge in developing countries as overuse is and echoed a call made several developing countries that an appropriate balance between ensuring access while avoiding excess of use of antibiotics must be sought in the framework. While the EU and its Member States wanted faster and clearer action from the WHO secretariat and asked them to present a roadmap with clear deliverables and deadlines about the development of this framework before the 70th WHA, the United States of America took a less eager approach by requesting that the WHO Secretariat as a first should seek resolve disagreements about the scope of the framework.

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