Somalia’s health minister elected vice president at World Health Assembly

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Dr. Ali Hajiadam Abubakar, Somalia’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, was elected one of five Vice Presidents of the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA), which began Monday in Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Frank Anthony, Guyana’s Minister of Health, was elected First Vice President.

The other countries elected as vice presidents are Guyana, Moldova, the Republic of Korea, and Sri Lanka.

The WHA, convening annually at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, addresses global health challenges and makes decisions impacting nations worldwide. This year’s key focuses include pandemic preparedness and maternal and infant health, with a significant initiative from Somalia aiming to reduce maternal and infant mortality.

Dr. Ali Haji Adam expressed his gratitude, saying, “I am deeply honored to have been elected as the Deputy President of the 77th World Health Assembly. I’m grateful to member states for placing their trust in Somalia’s leadership on global health. This is an important milestone as we work to strengthen our health systems.”
Somalia’s proposal emphasizes the country’s commitment to global health issues. The assembly will also debate amendments to the WHO’s International Health Regulations, intended to enhance global pandemic readiness by improving alert, detection, and containment capacities. A notable proposal would grant the WHO Director-General the authority to declare a “pandemic emergency.”

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, highlighted the importance of these discussions, especially as nations navigate post-COVID-19 challenges. He expressed confidence in finding a path forward despite recent setbacks in establishing a pandemic treaty due to disagreements over pathogen information sharing and technology.

The Somali delegation, led by Dr. Adam, includes Dr. Guled Abduljalil, Director General of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Hussein Muhiyadin, Director of the Medical Institute, the Director General of the Jubbaland Ministry of Health, and other department directors and consultants.

The World Health Assembly is the WHO’s primary decision-making body, with 194 member states. Delegates convene annually, typically in May, to set priorities and policies for the organization. The assembly also serves as a forum for member states to report on their health initiatives and outcomes, determining strategies to address global health gaps.

Dr. Tedros reported significant global health achievements over the past year, including reductions in tobacco use and improvements in road safety, nutrition, and vaccination coverage. He also noted ongoing challenges, such as the need for better financial protection in healthcare and addressing the impacts of climate change on health.