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Age-related causes of visual impairment and blindness are increasing, as is blindness due to uncontrolled diabetes (WHO)
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World Health Assembly sets disability agenda

Panel sitting in front of large conference room full of people
© WHO/Pierre Albouy
Committee meeting of the Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly

From 20-28 May 2013, the WHO held its Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva. This year, the WHA passed a key resolution on disability, calling on all member states to implement recommendations of the World Report on Disability 2011 and setting out to develop a draft action plan to be issued in 2014. The meeting also adopted a comprehensive action plan on mental health (2013-2020) and contributed to the WHO's new action plan on the prevention of blindness.

The Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly

The Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly (WHA) was held in Geneva from 20–28 May 2013. This annual meeting of health ministers from around world sets the general directions of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) work and priorities. 

As an organisation in official relations with WHO, CBM participated in the WHA and contributed to discussions. CBM, CBM participated in the WHA and contributed to discussions. CBM reminded member states of the importance of disability inclusion in the post-2015 development agenda, citing the need to prioritise data collection and insure access to health care and community-based services as key components to promoting the full participation of people with disabilities in society. It also called on the WHO to support member states in their efforts to gather disability disaggregated data,  in order to allow for an appropriate assessment of needs, costs and barriers.

The Sixty-sixth WHA passed several key resolutions regarding disability. Firstly, the WHA adopted a resolution on disability.  Secondly, a comprehensive action plan on mental health (2013-2020) was adopted. Finally, the WHA approved the WHO's new 2014–2019 action plan for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment - CBM supports the works of the WHO in the prevention of blindness through our cooperation with International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

The World Health Assembly resolution on disability

By adopting a key resolution on disability, the World Health Assembly has asserted its will to prioritise disability as a pressing developmental health issue. Following up on issues raised in the World Report on Disability in 2011, the resolution on disability calls on all member states to take all appropriate measures to implement the recommendations included in this report.

Based on the WHA disability resolution, the WHO will make an organisation-wide disability action plan. The action plan will ensure better healthcare for people with disabilities by guiding the implementation of the report and offering a tool for monitoring progress and challenges. CBM highlighted the importance of pursuing a collaborative, participatory and multi-sectoral approach in the planning and implementation phases of this process.

Global Mental Health Action Plan

In addition to this, the WHA endorsed the comprehensive mental health action plan (2013 – 2020). This action plan will guide member states in the design and development of national plans, suggesting best practices to address mental health issues in their respective countries.

In its contribution to these discussions, CBM highlighted that it is essential to include people who are affected by services in the development of policies and the monitoring of their impact, to ensure that people with psycho-social disabilities can access good quality care wherever they live.


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