GENEVA - The 140th Session of the Executive Board (EB) of the World Health Organization (WHO) convened at the Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on January 23.

The EB, the 34-member group tasked to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly and to advise the same, will meet from January 23 toFebruary 02.

The Philippines, represented by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Paulyn Rosell-Ubial, is a member of the EB from 2015 to 2018, a significant period marking the beginnings of the era of Agenda 2030. This will give the Philippines the opportunity to shape the post-2015 global health agenda.

In her opening statement to the 140th Meeting of the EB, WHO Director General Margaret Chan said that global health is an indispensable tool in ensuring a path towards equity, stating that in a "world facing considerable uncertainty, international health development remains a unifying force and a solid reference point for delivering fair social outcomes under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development".

To tackle these challenges, the Board, which largely directs the agenda of the Assembly, faces its own full agenda, including topics such as preparedness, surveillance and response to Pandemics and Health emergencies; anti-microbial resistance; global shortage of medicines and vaccines; migrant health; health systems strengthening; communicable diseases; polio, dementia and childhood obesity, among others.

Director General Chan ends her term in May 2017, giving the EB the additional task of nominating, for the consideration of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the candidates for the position of Director General.

The Board will be selecting a shortlist of three nominees to be endorsed to the WHA for the first open election for the position.

It is worth noting that amidst the discussions on future challenges and the forward trajectory of leadership, the EB paid tribute to two former DGs of the organization: Dr D.A. Henderson and Dr. Halfdan Mahler, both of whom passed away in 2016.

Dr. Henderson is known for one of mankind's greatest public health triumph: the eradication of smallpox through vaccination. Before his death, he was also able to contribute to the design of the ring vaccination approach used to test the Ebola vaccine in Guinea.

Dr. Halfdan Mahler, on the other hand, achieved the eradication of smallpox during his long tenure as WHO DG. Dr. Mahler was a champion of primary health care and the Alma-Ata Declaration which launched the Health for All movement. END

Source: Republic of Philippines Department Of Foreign Affairs