The World Health Assembly has kicked off in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WHO says: “The theme of this year’s Health Assembly is: Health for peace, peace for health. The COVID-19 pandemic and other health emergencies with international reach have highlighted the leadership and coordinating role of WHO in responding to such events. Strengthening preparedness for and response to health emergencies are a key theme of the Health Assembly.”

The group advises that: “The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget. The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.”

In his opening address WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus told delegates that the world is still grappling with Covid-19. He said: “More than two years into the most severe health crisis in a century, where do we stand? More than 6 million COVID-19 deaths have been reported to WHO. But as you know, our new estimates of excess mortality are much higher – almost 15 million deaths. Reported cases have declined significantly from the peak of the Omicron wave in January of this year. And reported deaths are at their lowest since March 2020. In many countries, all restrictions have been lifted, and life looks much like it did before the pandemic. So is it over? No, it’s most certainly not over.

Ghebreyesus added: “Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70% of their population – almost all of them high-income countries. We must continue to support all countries to reach 70% vaccination coverage as soon as possible, including 100% of those aged over 60; 100% of health workers; and 100% of those with underlying conditions.”

The World Health Assembly ends on 28 May 2022.

Those most at risk of having severe outcomes, when contracting the annual flu, are urged to also get their yearly flu vaccination.

According to the World Health Organization, people with underlying health conditions and the elderly, have more severe manifestations of influenza.

The WHO’s Director for Infectious Diseases Management, Dr. Sylvie Briand says getting the flu vaccination can help give patients better protection in the winter season.

Briand says the vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective.

Watch Briand’s full briefing here.

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With both flu and Covid-19 infections set to increase in the next few weeks, it is important to know which symptoms to look out for when falling ill this flu season.

The WHO’s Director for Infectious Diseases Management, Dr. Sylvie Briand warns that both diseases present similar symptoms which can confuse patients and leave them unsure of when to see their doctor or community nurse.

Briand says it is important to know the difference between the two viruses to ensure patients get proper and early treatment.

Watch Briand’s full interview here.

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The World Health Organization says it is especially women on the African continent that have been severely negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

New research shows that up to 40% of African countries have reported continued disruptions to sexual, reproductive, maternal, and child & adolescent health services, since the onset of the pandemic.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti says with International Women’s Day being celebrated today, it is important that governments improve their interventions to counteract these negative effects.

Moeti says teenage pregnancies and incidences of gender-based violence have also increased.

Read Moeti’s full statement here.

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The WHO’s Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus says there should be a global shift to see healthcare and healthcare facilities as an investment instead of as a cost.

He says proper investment in healthcare systems would lead to a more focused and resilient response to fight future disease outbreaks.

Ghebreyesus says the focus should be placed on using healthcare systems to promote health and well-being, instead of only treating diseases.

Watch Ghebreyesus’ full address here.

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