1. Pfeifer, Gail M. MA, RN, News Director


Decision-making body tackles organizational reform and large health issues.


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At the 65th World Health Assembly (WHA), held in Geneva, Switzerland, in May, the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO) addressed a wide range of global health concerns, such as noncommunicable diseases, immunizations, and maternal-child health. Detailed reports from the assembly can be found on the WHA's Web site at AJN summarizes a few highlights here.

Figure. WHO director... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. WHO director-general Margaret Chan listens to the views of member state delegations on WHO reform. Photo by Pierre Albouy / WHO.

* Member states will aim for a 25% reduction in premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, by 2025.


* Delegates requested that more attention be paid to the problems of early marriage and pregnancy in developing countries, where more than 30% of girls are married before age 18 and 14% are married before age 15. Noting the health consequences of early pregnancy in both mothers and infants and that "education itself is a protective factor," the Secretariat committed to working with regional offices to strengthen country-specific sex education. A briefing on a new report, Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth (, was also presented.


* Speaking to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Panel, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, urged all countries to reduce the barriers to health care access in this population.


* Proposals for organizational reform included a new ethics office at the WHO, which would oversee financial transparency and conflicts of interest in the organization.-Gail M. Pfeifer, MA, RN, news director