World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the UN specialized agency that is the ruling and coordinating authority for health within the UN system. WHO was founded on 7 April 1948. The Republic of Belarus is one of the WHO founding member states.
The WHO governing bodies:
- The World Health Assembly is the highest decision-making body in the WHO. The main function of the Assembly is to set the overall policy direction for the Organization. The Assembly appoints the Director General, oversees the financial policy of the Organization, reviews and approves the program budget. Sessions of the Assembly are held annually (in May in Geneva) with the participation of delegations from all 194 WHO Member States;
- The Executive Committee which consists of 34 members, elected for a three-year term. The main functions of the Executive Board are to implement the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to provide advice and generally contribute to its work. The Committee meets twice a year (in January and May).
WHO headquarters is located in Geneva, Switzerland. The structure of WHO includes 147 country and 6 regional offices.
Since 2017, H.E. Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia performs a duty as the WHO Director-General.
The WHO work in the European Region (with 53 Member States) is coordinated by the Regional Office for Europe, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. Since 2019, its director is the representative of Belgium, Mr. Hans Kluge.
Since 1994, the WHO country office has been operating in Belarus (Minsk).
The legal basis for cooperation between Belarus and WHO includes:
- the Basic Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the World Health Organization on the establishment of technical advisory cooperation dated 20 May 1999;
- the biennial cooperation plans (BAP) between the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus and the WHO Regional Office for Europe. Currently, a two-year plan of cooperation between the WHO European Bureau and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus for 2020-2021 is being implemented.
Belarus takes part in the key annual WHO events: sessions of the World Health Assembly, the WHO Executive Board, and the WHO Regional Committee for Europe.
The priority areas of cooperation between Belarus and WHO are:
- strengthening the healthcare system;
- expanding surveillance;
- prevention and treatment of major noncommunicable diseases;
- improving the capacity of the health system for the surveillance and control of communicable diseases;
- prevention and treatment of HIV / AIDS and tuberculosis.
The Republic of Belarus took an active part in the development of one of the main policy documents of the Organization — the 13th General Program of Work of WHO for 2019-2023, defending the interests of middle-income countries in the context of attracting WHO instruments, including financial ones, to Belarus. At the same time, the main emphasis is put on the prevention of the main risk factors that contribute to the spread of non-communicable diseases as the main threats to the Belarusian healthcare system.
The Republic of Belarus actively interacts with the WHO, including its country and regional offices, as part of the implementation of measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the invitation of the Belarusian side, theWHO mission worked in Belarus from 8 to 11 April 2020 to assess the measures taken to combat the new coronavirus. Within the framework of this visit, experts of the international organization visited health care institutions in Minsk, Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
Following the mission, the World Health Organization welcomed measures taken by Belarus to combat COVID-19, presenting some recommendations to step up efforts in this area. The head of the WHO mission, Mr. Patrick O'Connor, noted such important measures as laboratory testing of potential cases, contact tracing and isolation of people with confirmed coronavirus, quarantine for contacts and those who could potentially be exposed to the virus.
World Health Assembly.
On 18-19 May 2020, the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA73) was held for the first time in a videoconference format and with a reduced agenda. The main topic of the event was the COVID-19 pandemic. The delegation of the Republic of Belarus to the Assembly was headed by the Minister of Healthcare H.E. Mr. Karanik.
For reference: traditionally, WHA sessions are held for 7-8 days, and they are attended by about 4,000 delegates from 194 WHO Member States, partner organizations and representatives of civil society.
The Minister of Healthcare of the Republic of Belarus delivered remarks at the general segment. In his address, he outlined a common vision of Belarus regarding the situation related to the spread of coronavirus infection in the world. The head of the Ministry of Healthcare also provided information on specific approaches of Belarus to combat the pandemic.
The main outcome of the 73rd Assembly was the adoption of a resolution on COVID-19 proposed by the European Union. Belarus joined this document as a co-author, taking an active part in its preparation.
The main theses of the speeches of the 73rd WHA delegation were the following: strengthening national and global health systems in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; revising upward financing plans for the sector; bringing countries together to develop affordable vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19. The heads of the WHO member countries noted the leading role of this international organization in the response to the pandemic, indicated the need of the world community for scientific knowledge in the area of health in general and on the topic of the pandemic, in particular.
It is planned that the 73rd VAZ will resume its work under the normal agenda in November 2020.
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The first health treaty concluded under the auspices of WHO is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) of 2003, which brings together the most important areas of tobacco control in the world, with the participation of 180 Parties (countries and the European Union ) which have officially joined the treaty.
The Republic of Belarus ratified the WHO FCTC in 2005.
The main body of the FCTC is the Conference of the Parties, which meets once every two years.
Under the framework of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was adopted in 2012. The Republic of Belarus did not join it.
The coordinator of the implementation of the FCTC in the Republic of Belarus is the Ministry of Healthcare. To coordinate the work of the countries participating in the FCTC, the Secretariat of the Convention was established in Geneva.
In September 2015, at the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Belarus an international team consisting of representatives of the Secretariat of the FCTC, the WHO Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) conducted a needs assessment mission in Minsk for the implementation of the WHO FCTC. As a result of this mission, international experts noted progress in the implementation of the Convention, as well as made some recommendations related to attracting additional resources for carrying out activities on tobacco control.
The eighth session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC took place from 1 through 6 October 2018 in Geneva. The event was attended by 148 delegations, including representatives of the UN agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and civil society (in total — 1200 participants). Among the most important issues on the agenda were the following:
- Advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products: portrayal of tobacco in entertainment media products;
- Regulating the composition of tobacco products and the disclosure of the composition of tobacco products, including waterpipe tobacco products, smokeless tobacco products, and heated tobacco products;
- Regulatory measures for electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and electronic delivery systems for non-nicotine products (ENDS).
On 8-10 October 2018, the first session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (hereinafter — CC1) took place in Geneva. The session was attended by 44 States Parties to the Protocol and 56 States which are not Parties, together with representatives of civil society and intergovernmental organizations. The delegation of Belarus took part in this event as an observer.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on global conferences, the FCTC Secretariat decided to postpone the ninth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP9) of the WHO FCTC and the second session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (CC2), previously scheduled for November 2020, until 8-13 November 2021 (CC9) and 15-17 November 2021 (CC2), respectively. Both events will take place in Hague (Netherlands).