70th annually WHO World Health Assembly has begun. Sitting on the edges of this amazing organization is an interesting view. The people I have met are some of the most intellegent and committed people I have ever known. I love being with them, discussing health for the world. Struggling with issues of gender inequality, research quality, health disparities, nutrition, humanitarian responses, epidemics, violence, environment, health work force, policy, and effective education, implementation and evaluation. And now the world’s delegates have arrived.
To have the world gathered, all treated formally, calmly and with a ritual of significance. They create recommendations, guidelines, policies, strategies, white papers, reports, initiative and evaluations- all without any legal ramifications if not followed. Yet presented with such presence, there is almost a sense of shame if you don’t consider them significant.
At the opening, a speaker from Ukraine objected to Russia’s participation in the life affirming activities of WHA, and requested their statement- including a reporting of Russia’s violence- to be formally placed in the record. And then the event continued.
I know I hear others complain of the slowness of response, the bureaucracy of WHO, but it is hard to imagine it responding faster. This past year they responded to over 600 “health emergencies”, I received an email alert about rising levels of malnutrition and starvation in Africa, the bulge in population of adolescence and their unique health needs, and it goes on. In just over a week since I have been here, I have heard of many new initiative just starting, while others are trying to get finished, and fires are dealt with- all of that while being understaffed.
I suppose it’s obvious I enjoy the Public Health more than I ever imagined.