Magazine article UN Chronicle

43rd World Health Assembly: Call for Increased Aid to Developing Countries for Effective Health Development Programmes

Magazine article UN Chronicle

43rd World Health Assembly: Call for Increased Aid to Developing Countries for Effective Health Development Programmes

Article excerpt

43rd World Health Assembly

Additional support from developed countries was asked to reach the goal of health for all by the year 2000 through primary health care. The Assembly recommended providing this aid through bilateral and multilateral channels, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

The annual meeting was attended by some 1,000 delegates, representing 167 WHO member countries. Dr. Plutarco Naranjo Vargas, Ecuador's Minister of Health, presided. Namibia--formerly an associate member--became a full-fledged WHO member after its 21 March independence, accepting WHO's constitution on 23 April, the same day it became the UN's 160th Member State.

A trust- fund for the reconstruction and development of Namibia's health system is to be established. The Assembly also asked WHO to provide intensified technical cooperation and assistance for health programmes there.

The implementation of special technical assistance to improve the health conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territories was asked, as well as a study of Palestine's application for full WHO membership.

Also requested was a substantial expansion of WHO's programme of health, medical and relief assistance to Lebanon, which had "critical" health problems.

Diagnosis: 'Unacceptable

health conditions'

Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, WHO Director-General, told the Assembly that "in spite of overal technological and economic progress, especially in the developed world, for the majority of the populatin in many developing countries, the basic conditions for health, socio-economic development and daily living remain unacceptable".

People in developing countries, he stated, "still carry the double burden of having to cope with infectious diseases, while facing many of the degenerative diseases previously associated with development".

He stressed that the health issues of the 1990s could not be dealt with in isolation. "They are inextricably related to issues of development and social equity. We must strive to close the poverty gap both between and within countries." He said that "only in this way can we realize our current hopes and prospects for peace and quality of life, in our time and for future generations".

Dr. Nakajima emphasized that primary health care was the most cost-effective approach to health care with an acceptable quality for all persons.

The Director-General also stressed that, despite gains in agriculture and health technology, there was still evidence in many countries of widespread malnutrition and improper nutritional practices. There was a need to "better confront the increasingly serious problem of malaria control".

Dr. Nakajima noted that "in the past, WHO has concentrated on developing concepts and theories and has striven to achieve symmetry and perfection in its activities". However, he warned, it was clear that "unless we now stress implementation, focusing on activities of the highest priority, a number of Member States will not achieve the goal of health for all by the year 2000".

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Guilio Andreotti, President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, addressed a special session of the Assembly.

Mr. Mugabe said existing gross inequalities in the health status of people in the world, particularly between developing and developed countries, as well as within countries, were politically destabilizing, socially immoral and economically counter-productive.

He stressed that economic development based on a new international economic order was of fundamental importance if the reduction of the gap in the health status of peoples between developing and developed countries was to be accomplished, and health for all attained.

He also stressed that "health interventions emphasizing the primary health care philosophy will not lead to significant health development if issues like the persistence of mass poverty and hunger, rampant population growth, environmental degradation and agricultural neglect are not simultaneously addressed". …

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