INCB President takes part in 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva

VIENNA, 28 May 2018 - Last week, the President of INCB, Dr. Viroj Sumyai, attended the seventy-first session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. On the margins of the Assembly, the President met with several senior officials of the World Health Organization (WHO), including the Deputy Director-General for Programmes, the Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health (NMH), and the Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals. A meeting also took place with the Chair of the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Control (GAPCPC), a joint project between researchers at Harvard University and the University of Miami.

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO.  It convenes annually and is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States. This year's World Health Assembly took place on 21-26 May. Among other things, the INCB President's participation in the event was intended to further the Board's long-standing cooperation with WHO. A recent milestone in this cooperative relationship was the joint statement on the implementation of the UNGASS 2016 recommendations, issued together with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at the 61 st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).

On the first day of the World Health Assembly, Dr. Sumyai met with the Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health (NMH), Dr. Svetlana Akselrod, and two other senior officials. Among the topics discussed were activities in preparation for the United Nations General Assembly's third High-level Meeting on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, which will take place in late September 2018.

On Thursday 24 May, a meeting took place between the President of the Board and the Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Mariângela Simão, to exchange views on matters related to the availability of internationally controlled substances for medical purposes. Possible areas of cooperation were also explored. On the same day, Dr. Sumyai also held a consultation with the Deputy Director-General for Programmes, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, on the future areas of co-operation between INCB, WHO and UNODC.

In addition to holding discussions with senior officials of WHO, the INCB President also interacted with representatives of civil society and had a meeting with Dr. Felicia Marie Knaul, the founder and Chair of the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Control. The exchange focused on the issue of access to morphine and other controlled substances for pain management. Ways of working together in the coming year, in particular in the lead-up to the high-level session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2019, were also discussed.

 

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