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Good morning, this is Elaine, editor of Health Policy Watch, bringing you today’s Geneva Solutions health newsletter.

All eyes this week are on the World Health Assembly meeting of ministers of health from 194 WHO member states. Along with legalistic initiatives like the proposed “pandemic treaty”, very practical moves to head off future pandemics are also unfolding. One example is the new WHO collaboration with Switzerland on a global “Biohub" in Spiez to rapidly investigate pathogens of concern.

As WHA delegates convene, the world also is seeing a sharp decline in new Covid cases over the past month. But those gains are fragile, WHO warns - all the more so in a world beset by health inequalities and conflicts. Among those, Israeli-Palestinian dispute claimed a full day of debate. Meanwhile, Myanmar’s brutal coup was ignored by WHA delegates that kicked onto the UN a decision over whether to credential the military junta that seized power in February, or the ousted civilian government of now-imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi.

photo journaliste

Elaine Fletcher


Global health news

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, left, Director General of the WHO poses with Federal Councilor Alain Berset, after signing MoU for BioHub. (KEYSTONE / Martial Trezzini)

🥼🧫 WHO’s first BioHub launched in Canton of Bern, Switzerland. A high security lab is opening its doors to the rest of the world, allowing member states of the World Health Organization to share data on dangerous and highly infectious pathogens such as the SARS-Cov-2. It is hoped this will help fight the current health crises and prepare against future pandemics.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

🥊🗳Israeli-Palestinian conflict blocks full day at World Health Assembly. A longstanding dispute over a perennial World Health Assembly resolution on the health situation in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories claimed a full day of WHA delegates’ attention – as countries on both sides of the bitter conflict sparred verbally over a draft decision in hours of debate, leading up to a painstaking virtual vote by roll call of all 194 WHO member states.

Health Policy Watch (EN)

📉😷 Sharp declines in new Covid cases. Health officials told the WHA that despite sharp declines in new covid cases seen in almost every region in the last four weeks, the situation remains “fragile” as deaths accelerated in the first four months of 2021. The world is experiencing a highly unstable global epidemiological situation with health systems burdened and ICUs operating at capacity.

Health Policy Watch (EN)

In case you missed it…

Shining a light on World Health Assembly events so far. Talks on the creation of a new international treaty on pandemics was expected to feature high on the WHA agenda, however this has been postponed until later this year. Still efforts to end the current pandemic and avert future health crises remain top priority, with three committees sharing their knowledge on Covid-19, more talks on vaccine equity and the return of great power politics.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Here’s what else is happening

Image of the day

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Laboratory employee Anina Kull puts processed wastewater samples in a freezer at minus 60 degrees, photographed in a laboratory of the Environmental Microbiology Department at Eawag. (KEYSTONE / Gaetan Bally)

🔬 Diversifying health research. Although gender is increasingly factored into health research, much remains to be done. At an event held virtually by the global health centre in Geneva, panellists explained women are under-represented in pre-clinical and clinical trial research, leading to limited data on risks and benefits of tested medicines and vaccines. In addition, gender is still thought of in binary terms and needs to be extended beyond assumed categories.

Health Policy Watch (EN)

Next on the agenda

📍 28 May | Women power, politics and the pandemic: celebrating women’s leadership Bringing together experts from higher education institutions, the speakers will address the strengths that women have brought to this time of crisis, offering visions of a more egalitarian post-pandemic world.

Graduate Institute (EN)

📍 1 June | The impact of Covid-19 on ental health Sharing their perspectives from the - University Hospital of Geneva, experts will highlight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on mental health in the general population and the organisation of mental health services during the pandemic.


Number of the day

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👀 More than meets the eye. Officially, Covid-19 has cost the lives of 3.4 million people and infected more than 165 million people. However, the World Health Organization estimates that the pandemic could have caused many more deaths, between six to eight million in total. There are however positive signals emerging thanks to the vaccination campaigns.

Le Temps (FR)

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