76th World Health Assembly: 21 - 30 May 2023, Geneva, Switzerland
World Obesity Federation members and allies convened at the World Health Assembly this year to spotlight obesity in the international health agenda.
Our volunteers, staff and members were out in full force at the World Health Assembly - the annual meeting of the World Health Organization’s governing body, comprising representatives of all 194 Member States. The theme of this year’s Health Assembly was: WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all.
World Obesity President, Louise Baur, together with CEO, Johanna Ralston, and Head of Policy, Maggie Wetzel, took part in civil society and government-led high-level events to draw much needed attention to obesity on the NCDs and UHC agenda, in preparation for the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting on UHC in September 2023.
Read on for a round-up of some of the exciting events that took place during this fantastic week of progressing our shared obesity agenda!
Walk the Talk
The Walk the Talk: Health for All Challenge returned on Sunday, 21 May 2023 to Geneva, to provide a healthy kickstart to the 76th World Health Assembly, where Member States, civil society, and organisations in official relations with WHO like World Obesity, joined forces for entertainment and exercise.
World Obesity convened members and friends around our booth, to chat about the week to come and share our most recent work, and then we walked the talk to promote the importance of healthy lifestyles, raise awareness on the pursuit of health for all, and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of WHO.
The Global Obesity Coalition (GOC), a partnership between World Obesity Federation, UNICEF and WHO, held a breakfast meeting on 23 May. This important event enabled stakeholders from across the obesity landscape, including policy leaders, donors, engaged stakeholders and people with lived experience, to discuss the important steps needed to accelerate action.
Following an opening greeting from our President, Louise Baur, as well as smaller breakout discussions, there was an exciting programme of speakers including Francesco Branco, Director of Nutrition, WHO, Vilma Tyler, UNICEF, Cristina Ribes, GASOL Foundation, BNP Paribas Cardif, Alexandros Papaioannou, Permanent Representative of Greece to the UN in Geneva, Tasnim Atatrah, WHO Representative Bahrain, and Ogweno Stephen, Kenya, shared his perspective of living with obesity. Their enthusiastic words and efforts were inspiring and we look forward to working together with all stakeholders in future.
Panel discussion on WHO Acceleration Plan to Stop Obesity
On Tuesday evening, our President, Louise Baur, and CEO, Johanna Ralston, were part of a panel hosted by the government of Bahrain on the new WHO Acceleration Plan to Stop Obesity, alongside ministers of health and WHO EURO Regional Director, Hans Kluge, as well as Jacqueline Bowman-Busato of EASO.
During this same event, the Minister of Health of Seychelles, Peggy Vidot, reported that this small island developing state has declared obesity an emergency in a strategy chaired by the country’s president. This is a remarkable step and underscores how many countries are grappling with obesity challenges with little in the way of resources and assistance. The minister has shared with the World Obesity Federation an interest in launching an obesity society to help with a coordinated response.
Building civil society capacity in support of obesity policies
World Obesity and members together with NCD Alliance had the first of many meetings with WHO Nutrition department in Geneva, to discuss building civil society capacity in support of the WHO Acceleration Plan and obesity action in the countries represented that day.
Joining us and WHO was: Executive Director for Europe from Gasol Foundation, Cristina Ribes; Head of Policy for EASO, Jacqueline Bowman-Busato; Director of ACT Brazil, Paula Johns; Executive Director of Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Maisha Hutton; and Policy Manager from NCDA, Liz Arnanz.Download Acceleration Plan Information
Statements on key agenda items
World Obesity delivered a number of statements on key agenda items, including on Universal Health Coverage, the Political Declaration of the third high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of NCDs and the expanded list of NCD best buys, and Social Determinants of Health.
Related news: Prior to WHA76, our CEO, Johanna Ralston, delivered a statement on obesity at the UN preparatory hearing in advance of the High Level Meeting on UHC in September. At this event, Ralston spoke to the need for obesity to be integrated into health systems and primary care across all countries, and the importance of non-stigmatising and informed care. The UN HLM on UHC takes place at the time of the UN General Assembly and statements from the hearing can inform the political declaration that will be adopted by Member States.
Statements delivered by World Obesity at WHA76:
Universal Health Coverage and NCDs
As preparations for the Second UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage are underway, World Obesity remains concerned by the lack of progress to achieve UHC by 2030, as well as to meet WHO targets on NCDs. The need for equitable access to a continuum of care from health promotion and disease prevention through to diagnosis, treatment and management of obesity as part of UHC was recognised in the new WHO recommendations on obesity, adopted in 2022.
Read our statement where we call Member States to integrate essential prevention and treatment of obesity into UHC.
Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) Equity
World Obesity Federation, Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control, World Cancer Research Fund International, Movendi International, International Diabetes Federation, FDI World Dental Federation, International Union for Health Promotion and Education and NCD Alliance welcome the updated WHO World Report on Social Determinants of Health Equity and the implementation-oriented operational framework for monitoring progress.
World Obesity delivered a Constituency Statement on behalf of the above organisations, urging that stigma, false narratives and preconceptions also be addressed as part of the wider determinants to access quality health services, particularly for people living with obesity, alcohol use disorder or other mental health conditions.
Download our Social Determinants of Health Equity Constituency Statement
Constituency Statement to the 76th World Health Assembly – Social Determinants of Health
Statement on Agenda Items 16.3.Pillar 3: One billion more people enjoying better health and well-beingDownload (564.89 KB)
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