World Health Organisation World Health Assembly Round-Up – Part 2

This is the second part of a three-part series, in which the Healthcare Times examines the sixty-ninth World Health Assembly, which recently took place in Geneva.

Tobacco control

Delegates invited the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s (WHO FCTC) Conference of the Parties (COP) to provide information on outcomes of this biennial event.

They also invited the COP to consider requesting the Assembly to provide a report for information on relevant tobacco-related activities to future meetings of the COP.

Delegates also decided to include a follow-up item on this issue at the Seventieth World Health Assembly.

Nutrition

Delegates adopted two resolutions on nutrition. The first urges countries to make concrete policy and financial commitments to improve people’s diets, and report back regularly on those policies and investments.

It calls on UN bodies to guide and implement national nutrition programmes and support monitoring and reporting mechanisms, and specifically requests that WHO and FAO work together to help countries develop, strengthen and implement their plans and maintain an open access database of commitments for public accountability.

The second welcomed WHO guidance on ending the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children.

The guidance clarifies that, in order to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, the marketing of “follow-up formula” and “growing-up milks”—targeted for consumption by babies aged 6 months to 3 years—should be regulated in just the same manner as infant formula for 0 to 6-month-olds.

WHO guidance also indicates that foods for infants and young children should be promoted only if they meet standards for composition, safety, quality and nutrient levels and are in-line with national dietary guidelines.

The guidance recommends that health professionals do not accept gifts or free samples from companies marketing food and drink products.

Such companies should not distribute samples, coupons, or products to families, nor allow the companies to provide education or market foods through their health facilities.

The guidance also recommends that companies do not sponsor meetings of health professionals.

This resolution urges countries, health professionals, the food industry, and the media to implement the guidance holistically, in an effort to improve health outcomes.

In the resolution, countries also requested support from WHO to implement the guidance and monitor and evaluate its impact on infant and young child nutrition.

The WHO to work with other international organisations on promoting national implementation of the guidance, and to report back to the Assembly in 2018 and 2020.

 

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