Tuesday, May 22
I have to admit. Everyone was a little slow getting up this morning, but excitement filled our group again as we walked into the UN for day two of the 65th World Health Assembly. We started the day by attending a Committee A meeting with delegates convening on NCD interventions. Within this, many countries such as Norway, Argentina, and Thailand had a few minutes to discuss with the floor what they thought about tactics laid out for NCD control and their concerns with the text. They also mentioned the amendments they would make in terms of targets for NCDs laid out for the Assembly. In this regard, it was especially interesting to hear Thailand speak as were one of the first to raise concerns about the achievability of targets as they thought that countries such as theirs did not have the capacity to obtain some of the goals set forth. Thailand stated that the targets were too ambitious for many regions in South East Asia and that the health systems in developing countries may be burdened further by the addition of the targets. Although they agreed to them, Thailand believed that targets set forth by the Assembly on NCDs would be difficult to achieve and more regional approaches should be understood.
Committee A meeting:
After this meeting, my group went to a plenary hearing where countries really emphasized their work towards providing universal coverage, the health achievements they have made, and the health topics they believe should be focused on. Of course more was discussed than this but this is a broad idea of the topics discussed. We heard from countries such Vietnam, Japan, Panama and Senegal, and it was definitely interesting listening to what they had to say. It was quite a contrast to hear such importance placed on universal coverage from every country that spoke because of the relative inaction on this topic made in the U.S., but it highlighted health as a perspective right, which was nice to see.
The afternoon of day two steadily continued as my group and I went to a meeting on opiate use and prevention, listened to Mike Splaine about alzheimer’s disease, listened to a member of the Brazilian coalition against tobacco use, interviewed the minister of health of Uruguay, and then went to a talk about the fight countries are taking against the obstacles the tobacco industry has put in front of their tobacco control efforts. It was a lot of information, but it was very informative. The interview with the health minister of Uruguay was a particularly great experience for me as I was able to interview him along with members of my group about his thoughts on the interference tobacco industries have created on tobacco control in country and the “25 by25” goal of the NCD alliance to reduce the mortality rate of NCDs by 25% by the year 2025. I was a bit intimidated at first to interview the health minister because I had to do the interview in Spanish. Although I can understand Spanish well and have taken it for many years, I have not spoken in a long time and forgot much of it, but the interview went well. He was very nice, and at his talk after our interview, he even gave USC students a shout out! It was a great way to end the day.
The talk on tobacco control:
The minister of health for Uruguay (middle/blue suit):