About the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly (WHA76)
The Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly (WHA76) – the decision-making body of the World Health Organization meeting annually in Geneva – kicked off on Sunday 21 May 2023 after the now traditional Walk the Talk: Health for All Challenge healthy kickstart event. Held this year under the theme ‘WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all ‘, WHA76 offers an occasion to address environmental health issues, and will conclude on 30 May 2023.
The Impact of Chemicals, Waste, and Pollution on Human Health
A resolution on the impact of chemicals, waste, and pollution on human health initially tabled by Peru, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Monaco, Switzerland, Uruguay and the European Union and its Member States (contacts Bernardo Roca-Rey Ross & Vanessa Aliaga of Peru), was adopted on 29 May. It includes notes and references to various ongoing negotiations as well as UN Environment Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions. Among these:
- Plastic pollution and the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in charge of developing a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution | Scaling-up work on plastics and health. Indeed its impacts are not given adequate attention as stated by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the Geneva Day held at the World Economic Forum 2023.
- The Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (SAICM) and the inter-sessional work of the International Conference on Chemicals Management.
- State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals | Update of the UNEP report to be prepared prior to the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, in line with the resolution UNEA 5/7.
- Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group to establish a Science-Policy Panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution | Contribute to the work of OEWG, and explore the full range of options for the future involvement of WHO for the consideration at the next WHA.
- Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) | Promote broad engagement and coordination of relevant intergovernmental organizations, further strengthening international cooperation and multi-sectoral engagement in the sound management of chemicals and waste.
The discussion on the resolution during the assembly addressed the following points (with our thanks to WHO for sharing the points):
- Wide support for the resolution. The resolution was seen necessary to further advance the understanding of the impacts of chemicals, waste and pollution on human health and wellbeing and to strengthen linkages between the WHO and various intergovernmental agreements addressing chemical and waste pollution – building upon what works and what still remains to be done. Many countries advocated for a closer engagement for WHO and ministries of health in these issues.
- The significant opportunity to prevent a sizable burden of disease by addressing environmental determinants particularly the sound management of chemicals and waste was emphasized and the connections with other health priorities marked such as maternal and child health, suicide prevention, health inequities and health of those in vulnerable situations. The need for strengthening training of the health workforce, dissemination of knowledge and strengthening surveillance and biomonitoring approaches were highlighted.
- Member States appreciated the existing WHO strategies including implementation of the WHO Global Strategy for Health, Environment and Climate Change and the WHO Chemicals Road map and the need to tackle issues in a holistic way including through a rights-based approach including the right to a clean and healthy environment.
- Ministries of health acknowledged the need for health impacts of plastics to be addressed and the need to cooperate in the context of the UN system to better engage in efforts to prepare international arrangements for addressing plastics and science-policy issues. Member States expressed the need to ensure that the new treaty being negotiated has human health firmly at its core. WHO can do much to galvanize governments towards international agreements particularly in strengthening the evidence showing the impact of plastics and microplastics on health.
GEN @ World Health Assembly
Environment @ World Health Assembly
- Climate Change: Health leadership for the greatest threat of our times | 22 May 2023, 12:30-14:00 CEST
- The World Together: Member State-led processes to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (Strategic Roundtable) | 22 May 2023, 13:00–14:30 CEST
- Protecting and investing in the health and care workforce: An action-oriented agenda for the second half of the SDG (Strategic Roundtable) | 23 May 2023, 13:00–14:30 CEST
- The role of the Health Community in Climate Action: taking stock and moving forward (Strategic Roundtable) | 24 May 2023, 13:00–14:30 CEST
- Renewed partnerships for global health | 24 May 2023, 17:00–20:30 CEST
- Ending TB by 2030: Universal access to care, multisectoral collaboration, and innovations to accelerate progress and combat antimicrobial resistance (Strategic Roundtable) | 25 May 2023, 13:00–14:30 CEST
- Breathing Life with Clean Air Action: Civil Society Drives Change | 25 May 2023, 13:00–15:00 CEST
- New Investments to Build Climate Resilient Communities | 25 May 2023, 14:00-18:00 CEST
- Energizing Health: Building Resilient and Sustainable Health Infrastructure for the Future, | 25 May 2023, 18:00 CEST
On the sidelines of the WHA, the World Climate Foundation and the Geneva Health Forum (GHF) will host the World Resilience Summit 2023: Partnerships to Prevent Future of Pandemics. The Summit will launch a public-private dialogue and engage actors across climate, biodiversity, and health, aligned with the One Health approach, bringing together key stakeholders and decision-makers from both public and private sectors for pandemic prevention beyond the health sector for the first time. → Find more information on the program, the panelists, and the evening reception of the event taking place on 24 May from 15:30 to 20:00 CEST at Campus Biotech.
- Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly
- The impact of chemicals, waste and pollution on human health (A76/A/CONF./2) | Draft resolution tabled by Peru, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Monaco, Switzerland, Uruguay and the European Union and its Member States
- Plastics and Human Health | Plastics and the Environment Series
- World Resilience Summit 2023: Partnerships to Prevent Future of Pandemics
- International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) | SAICM
- Sound management of chemicals and waste (UNEP/EA.5/Res.7) | 7 March 2022
- Developing a Global Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution Prevention
- The Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC)