Geneva, 21 May 2014 (PAHO/WHO) - Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday approved a global monitoring framework on maternal, infant and young child nutrition, during the 67th World Health Assembly. In approving the framework, the Asembly asked the WHO Secretariat to develop recommendations for Member States on how to address the inappropriate marketing of complementary foods - foods for infants and young children who are still breastfed. They also asked the Secretariat to facilitate further development of the indicators described in this framework, and to convene informal consultations with Member States on tools to manage undue industry influence.
Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), José Graziano da Silva was present for the debate to address delegates. FAO and WHO will co-host the Second International Conference on Nutrition in November 2014. Both organizations were requested to ensure that other UN organizations, nongovernmental organizations the private sector and other stakeholders take part in consultations on the conference's outcome.
Ministers of agriculture, health and foreign affairs are expected to adopt a global policy framework for the next decade to address the major nutrition challenges of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, obesity and noncommunicable diseases resulting from an unbalanced diet.
The estimated number of children under 5 who are stunted (i.e., have low height for their age as a consequence of poor nutrition) has fallen, from 167 million in 2010 to 162 million in 2012. At the same time, the number of children under 5 who are overweight appears to be growing, from 41 million in 2010 to 44 million in 2012.
Delegates discussed the increasing number of attacks on health workers, in both conflict and non-conflict settings. They reviewed common action to address the problem and reaffirmed the principles of the sanctity of health-care facilities and the safety of health-care workers.
The Americas at the World Health Assembly
Among those who spoke during today's plenary session were the ministers of health of Barbados, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The region's delegations sponsored side events today on palliative care, chronic diseases and health preparedness for mass events.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan spoke during the event on chronic diseases, noting that a life-course approach helps ensures that these diseases are addressed in people of all ages and that prevention starts at the beginning of life. Sir Trevor Hassel, President of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, urged countries to establish national commissions on chronic diseases to strengthen action in this important area.
In the event on health preparedness for mass events, Brazil presented its plan for preventing and responding to health events during the World Cup in June and July of this year. Measures it is implementing range from mass vaccination campaigns and travel advice to special health apps for mobile phones and distribution of free condoms.
The United States joined other delegations in organizing an event on strengthening emergency services, essential surgery and anesthesia, as components of universal health coverage. In addition, a special panel of experts discussed ways of strengthening regulatory systems.
Finally, the United States was also among the sponsors of an event today on strengthening palliative care, the focus of a resolution under consideration by this year's Assembly (see A67/31).