Johannesburg – WHO member states agree that for peace to reign in conflict-affected areas, good medical assistance and health resources must be available to all. Some suggested approaches include that WHO programs should achieve both health and peace dividends at country level by integrating the Health for Peace approach.
And so it was that the Global Health for Peace Initiative was discussed at the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Switzerland, where delegates called for re-elected Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to consult all members to find a way forward for the implementation of the WHO report on the New Initiative.
The first in-person Health Assembly since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic was held May 22-28, 2022 with the theme Health for Peace, Peace for Health.
Speaking on behalf of the 43 African members of WHO, the delegate from Sierra Leone said there was a need to establish universal health coverage as it would align with WHO’s activities under the thirteen general program of work 2019-2023, targeting the triple billion.
An example of WHO’s interventions in health for peace is the psychosocial and mental health of conflict-affected youth in Somalia from 2020. WHO has developed a training curriculum and organized training sessions training to educate some 80 health workers capable of improving mental health and psychosocial health. Support services (MHPSS) to local populations suffering from mental health problems caused by acute and protracted conflicts. This initiative targeted vulnerable youth in conflict-prone contexts, Community MHPSS aimed to reduce stigma at the community level and engage youth to actively engage in activities that promote social cohesion.
“The African region supports the Global Health for Peace initiative which is relevant to both the success of health programs and the importance of peace, including equity, inclusiveness, participation, l “local ownership or leadership and context-specific seasons. The African region is convinced that there will be no health without peace and no health without peace,” said the WHO Afro Representative.
The Thirteenth General Program of Work (PGT 13) defines WHO’s strategy for the five-year period 2019-2023. It focuses on triple billion goals to achieve measurable impacts on people’s health at the national level.
“We would also like to acknowledge the involvement of the WHO Regional Office for Africa since the launch of the Global Health for Peace initiative in 2019 in Geneva, in this context several countries have submitted projects on health and peace to United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, notably Cameroon and Burkina Faso. The African region looks forward to the finalization and availability of the practical guide held for the peace manual which will help to apply the health for peace approach,” he said..
The African region will continue to support WHO offices and units that effectively promote public health standards as well as those that support national ministries of health, implementing conflict-sensitive programs and contributing to the dividends of peace in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable areas,” he said. .
Members also heard from international organizations affiliated with WHO, including the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) and the International Council of Nurses (ICN.
“IFMSA has recognized the interdependence of peace and health and emphasizes the promotion of peace through the provision of care, the promotion of community health and the development of equitable policies. Multisectoral partnerships and intersectoral are essential to address pressing health issues and prepare for future ones, as evidenced by several experiences such as flu preparedness plans and as such is crucial to end in peace through health,” said Iris Blom, physician and IFMSA Liaison Officer to WHO.
She says IFMSA strongly supports youth engagement in promoting peace-sensitive health programs and equitable policies that build social justice.
“IFMSA calls on Member States to uphold the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence that guide the health profession and to refrain from acts of violence against it and to equip future health workers with the skills to promote multicultural peace through their practice,” Blom said.
Nurse and CEO of the International Council of Nurses, Howard Catton highlighted the initiative of his organization called Nurses for Peace Initiative supported by nurses around the world and global nursing solidarity and humanitarian support in response to the invasion of Ukraine .
“On behalf of the 28 million nurses around the world, we believe that health and well-being are the foundation of safety and security and that peace and health are inseparable. Nursing values such as that justice, respect, equity, human rights and compassion are all foundations of peace and by supporting them in their daily practice, nurses are influencers of peace, of the diplomacy of peace and peacebuilding As trusted members of their communities, nurses can play an important role in strengthening and operationalizing the link between health and social cohesion and peace. fragile and vulnerable people provide care that focuses on neutrality, reconciliation and healing,” he said.
The World Health Assembly has called for the development of a roadmap in full consultation with Member States, observers, other UN agencies and relevant non-State actors in official relations with WHO, which will be presented for consideration in 2023 by the 76th World Health Assembly through the 152nd session of the Executive Board.