Magazine article UN Chronicle

WHO Launches Effort to Eradicate Polio by Year 2000

Magazine article UN Chronicle

WHO Launches Effort to Eradicate Polio by Year 2000

Article excerpt

WHO launches effort to eradicate polio by year 2000

A detailed plan to eradicate poliomyelitis by the year 2000 was approved by the forty-second World Health Assembly (8-19 May, Geneva). The annual meeting was attended by some 1,200 delegates, representing the 166 members countries of the World Health Organization (WHO). Professor Chen Minzhang, China's Minister of Public Health, presided.

The polio plan of action is based on rapid increase of immunization coverage, assurance that the vaccine is potent whan it reaches the child, and improved surveillance and laboratory diagnostic services. Polio is one of the six major childhood diseases identified by WHO--the others are diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, measles and tuberculosis.

Malaria control will also remain a major global priority, with the Assembly asking WHO to reinforce its malaria training programme.

By a vote of 83 to 47, with 20 abstentions, the Assembly also decided to defer until next year action on the application of Palestine for full membership in WHO.

In the meantime, WHO will increase health assistance to the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, giving material and moral support to all local, Arab and international entities wishing to establish hospitals and health units in the occupied Arab territories.

For the first time in its 40-year history, WHO is receiving more funds from voluntary contributions than from regular contributions by member States.

In what is widely seen as a recognition of the organization's successful work on issues ranging from primary health care and malaria control to the global fight against AIDS, some $700 million in voluntary donations are expected for 1990-1991, in addition to the $653.7-million zero-growth budget unanimously adopted by the Assembly.

WHO Director-General Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima told the Assembly that no human progress was possible without minimum health conditions. Health was "a lever and motivating force for human and social development", he added.

The current economic crisis could be transformed into a new opportunity for health development if creditor nations cancelled debts in return for a systematic solution by the debtors of their own health problems, Dr. Nakajima said.

The Assembly asked WHO to give particular assistance to countries burdened by debt and other economic pressures.

After evaluating national health strategy progress reports from 143 countries, it reaffirmed the 1978 Declaration of Alma-Ata on primary health care and its application beyond the year 2000.

Member States were asked to reduce inequities among different population groups, strengthen their health services and take innovative measures to train health personnel so that they are technically qualified, socially motivated and responsive to the people's needs.

Focus on environmental

health

Environmental health will be given prominence in WHO's programme, with emphasis on the health effects of hazardous and toxic substances, industrial processes and products, agricultural and food processing practices and climate change. …

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