Media centre

Sixty-first World Health Assembly

President Ramasammy

Date: 19-24 May 2008
Location: Geneva, Switzerland

The 61st session of the World Health Assembly took place in Geneva during 19-24 May 2008. Attended by a record 2704 participants from 190 countries, this session of the Health Assembly discussed a number of public health issues and adopted several resolutions.

One of the key resolutions adopted by the 61st World Health Assembly is aimed at removing intellectual property barriers to essential research and development for public health. The resolution includes a Global strategy on public health, innovation and intellectual property. The Health Assembly also:

  • Endorsed a six-year action plan to tackle noncommunicable diseases, now the leading threats to human health;
  • Called upon WHO to present at the World Health Assembly in 2010 a draft global strategy to reduce harmful use of alcohol;
  • Adopted a resolution urging Member States to take decisive action to address health impacts from climate change;
  • Committed Member States to accelerating action towards the elimination of the practice of female genital mutilation through laws and educational and community efforts.
  • Directed WHO to help countries in reaching higher coverage of immunization and to encourage development of new vaccines; and
  • Requested WHO to assess the health aspects in migrant environments and to explore options to improve the health of migrants.

The Health Assembly also discussed the programme budget, administration and management matters of WHO.


Reverend Desmond Mpilo Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus, Cape Town, and Nobel Prize Laureate

Her Royal Highness Muna Al Hussein

Princess of Jordan

Dr Leslie Ramsammy

President of the 61st World Health Assembly

Dr Halfdan Mahler

Former WHO Director-General