Officials from 139 countries are currently in Geneva, Switzerland to attend the 61st World Health Assembly. They have begun the annual task of reviewing progress and settling new priorities for one of the most powerful tools in global public health, the World Health Organisation (WHO). The event also marks the 60th year of the international collaborative effort to relieve the burden of diseases globally.
|Soccoh Kabia, Health and Sanitation Minister
The annual meeting however is being overshadowed by the somber remembrance of loss of lives in the Myanmar cyclone and the China earthquake that has already claimed more than 10,000 lives.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan told the more than 2,500 delegates in the Assembly Hall of the Palais de Nation that they were meeting at the time of tragedy. He however, said "we must all brace ourselves for more humanitarian crises in the immediate and near future."
Dr Chan provided the delegates with a stark survey of health challenges from ancient afflictions to future human health impacts of climate change. He reported on the mixed progress towards polio eradication and expressed the hope of overcoming the economic barriers that sometimes stands in the way of future public health achievement.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.