The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) elected Qu Dongyu, China’s vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs, as its new director-general on June 23, despite strong objections from the United States and the European Union. According to Devex, the United States circulated a non-paper to FAO members before the election, stating “our primary objective is to beat the Chinese candidate,” and citing “strong concerns about Chinese leadership at multinational organizations.”
Five candidates are competing for the top job at UNAIDS, following the abrupt resignation of Michel Sidibé in May following accusations of misconduct.
French President Emmanuel Macron and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus signed a Declaration of Intent on June 11 to establish the WHO Academy. The academy will foster “innovative learning via a state-of-the-art digital learning experience platform” at a campus in Lyon and embedded in the six WHO regions. The Lyon hub will feature high-tech learning environments, a world-class health emergencies simulation center, and collaboration spaces for learning, co-design, research and innovation.
Former Nigerian health minister and incoming World Bank global director of health, nutrition and population Muhammad Ali Pate will also take over leadership of the Global Financing Facility (GFF) on July 1. He will replace Mariam Claeson, a Gates Foundation secondee who is stepping down after two and a half years at the helm.
UN Women released its annual Progress of the World’s Women report on June 25, highlighting the diversity of family types globally and providing recommendations to support laws and policies that meet the needs of all family members, especially women and girls.
The 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA), the World Health Organization’s main governing body, concluded May 28 in Geneva. Universal health coverage (UHC) was the overarching theme of this year’s WHA and is a core component of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ platform. Member states passed several resolutions on key UHC priorities such as health financing, building sustainable and resilient people-centered health systems, and strengthening health workforces.
WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization revised its vaccination recommendations earlier this month to address the sharp increase in cases and dwindling vaccine stockpiles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s worsening Ebola outbreak. SAGE now recommends a dose-sparing strategy with Merck’s rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine to case contacts, as well as the use of another experimental vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN, for certain lower-risk people.
A UN report released earlier this month found that as many as one million plant and animal species might be at risk of extinction due to human activity, and said that the rate of global change in nature is “unprecedented in human history.” A summary of key findings is available here; the full 1,500-page report will be published this year.
U.S. President Donald Trump has formally nominated Kelly Knight Craft, current U.S. Ambassador to Canada, for the vacant position of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The nomination, made earlier this month, now heads to the U.S. Senate, which confirmed Craft for her current role. Politico reports that “Craft is likely to face a bruising Senate confirmation process.”
UN Women announced its new “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” campaign at a news conference on May 6, as part of the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration in 2020.
UNAIDS announced on May 8 that its executive director, Michel Sidibé, is leaving his post immediately, following allegations he mishandled sexual assault claims. An independent review commissioned by UNAIDS last year said Sidibé “neither prevented harassment nor responded quickly to accusations,” according to Reuters.
Sidibé will become minister of health and social affairs in his native Mali “with immediate effect,” according to UNAIDS. He will be replaced by the deputy executive director, Gunilla Carlsson, on a temporary basis.
WHO released draft zero of its new immunization strategy for feedback from the global health community at the local, country, regional, and international levels. The organization invited stakeholders to provide feedback by June 14 via survey, written comments, or web conferences.
With the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) ending in 2020, this new strategy will be finalized for endorsement at the 73rd World Health Assembly in May 2020.
UNICEF and WHO released its Low Birthweight Estimates report this month, highlighting data and key recommendations for addressing low birthweight at the global, regional, and national levels. The new data reveal stagnated and decelerated progress in 2010–2015 compared with 2000–2009.
The estimates indicate that one in seven live births—20.5 million newborns worldwide—suffered from low birthweight in 2015, almost half of them in Southern Asia.
WHO released its 2018-2019 Programme Budget Mid-term Review, highlighting WHO’s health impact and the financial resources required to achieve it. Organized by the WHO’s triple billion targets, examples of key results include the Declaration of Astana, support for the cholera outbreak in Yemen, and the success of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
WHO’s total 2018–2019 budget amounts to $4.4 billion, of which 77 percent is used for base programs, with the remaining for polio and special programs.
This month, UN Women and WHO launched RESPECT, a new framework to guide policymakers on programs and policies that can prevent violence against women. The RESPECT acronym summarizes the seven strategies of the framework:
R – Relationship skills strengthened.
E – Empowerment of women.
S – Services ensured – including health, police, legal, and social services.
P – Poverty reduced.
E – Environments made safe, including schools, public spaces, and work.