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Ministers of health to discuss action on noncommunicable diseases, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and health in the post-2015 development agenda, among others. Delegates from throughout the Americas are participating in the Assembly, which takes place May 19 to 24

Geneva, Switzerland, 16 May 2014 (PAHO/WHO) — Health ministers and other high-level delegates from 194 countries are in Geneva this week for the 67th World Health Assembly, which takes place from May 19 to 24. Topping the meeting's agenda are prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, a strategy to reduce cases of tuberculosis around the world, and the role of health in the post-2015 international development agenda.

The World Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). Its main functions are to determine WHO's policies, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the Organization's budget.

Delegations led by ministers and other top health authorities are participating from countries throughout the Americas, together with officials from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) led by PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. PAHO is WHO's Regional Office for the Americas, which is one of six WHO regions

Thousands of delegates from around the world are participating in this week's meeting, in which health authorities will also discuss a global vaccination plan, a strategy for fighting hepatitis, maternal and child nutrition, antimicrobial resistance, access to essential medicines, and management of autism spectrum disorders, among other topics.

Delegates will also discuss how to strengthen regulatory systems, a draft plan of action for newborn health, the WHO reform process, and WHO's budget.

Keynote speakers for this year's plenary sessions are Melinda Gates, co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the First Lady Christine Kaseba-Sata of Zambia, WHO's Goodwill Ambassador against Gender-based Violence.

During the assembly, delegates will hear technical briefings on how to strengthen health security through the implementation of the International Health Regulations as well as on quality of care for newborns and priorities for advancing universal health coverage. A call to action on health in times of conflict is also on the agenda.

Delegations from the Americas are spearheading several parallel events focused on regional health priorities, including blood safety, sexual and reproductive health, control of hepatitis A, elimination of discrimination in access to health care, and disabilities.