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WHO's Report Shows Global Health Milestones Amidst Rising Challenges

The World Health Organization's 2023 Results Report highlights significant strides in global public health amidst rising challenges, showcasing achievements in areas such as healthier populations, universal health coverage, and emergency preparedness.

Saurabh Shukla
WHO's Report Shows Global Health Milestones Amidst Rising Challenges (Photo Source: WHO)
WHO's Report Shows Global Health Milestones Amidst Rising Challenges (Photo Source: WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) released its 2023 Results Report, marking significant achievements in global public health in the face of mounting challenges from conflicts, climate change, and disease outbreaks. The study involves findings from 96% of WHO country offices and includes 174 country reports that outline progress made toward 46 targets as well as common problems.

This report highlights the achievement of significant milestones despite increased global humanitarian health needs and was released ahead of the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly in 2024, which is planned to take place from May 27 to June 1, 2024.

WHO updated its program budget for 2022–2023 to US$ 6726.1 million, taking into account the priorities for emerging health issues as well as the lessons learnt from the pandemic response.

The results report highlights developments in important areas such as better public health, universal health coverage (UHC), and readiness for medical emergencies. Notably, estimates indicate that by 2025, improvements in air quality and increased access to water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities might help achieve the goal of one billion more people enjoying improved health and well-being.

In terms of UHC, around 30% of nations are leading the way in increasing the coverage of vital health services while also strengthening financial safety nets, largely because of increased HIV service coverage. Though recovering from disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine coverage for high-priority infections is still below pre-pandemic levels, despite considerable improvement.

Notable achievements during the biennium included the distribution of RTS, S/AS01—the world's first malaria vaccine—to more than two million children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, which led to a 13% decrease in the death rate of eligible children. Furthermore, 14 nations have eradicated at least one neglected tropical disease; Bangladesh has defeated two of these illnesses.

In response to acute health crises, the Pandemic Fund provided USD 338 million in 2023 to help 37 nations establish early responses to emerging events and scale up life-saving health treatments during extended crises. The WHO's coordinated efforts to strengthen laboratory and surveillance systems and increase the capacity of global genomic sequencing have resulted in a 62% increase in the capacity for SARS-CoV-2 detection between February 2021 and December 2023.

Moreover, the introduction of all-oral treatment regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in 2022 marked a watershed moment, enabling the highest-ever number of tuberculosis patients to access treatment since monitoring inception nearly three decades ago. WHO's initiatives, such as the REPLACE campaign targeting the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from food supplies, garnered momentum, with 13 more countries implementing best-practice policies, bringing the total to 53 nations.

Regarding HIV/AIDS, more than 75 percent of distressed people are on antiretroviral therapy, and most of them achieve viral suppression, reducing the risk of transmission. It is encouraging to note that there is a decline in tobacco consumption in 150 countries, with 56 of them on track to meet the global targets for tobacco reduction by 2025.

A coordinated worldwide response to the growing issue of antibiotic resistance was demonstrated by the development of multisectoral national action plans by 29 more nations throughout the biennium. In addition, the WHO's drive to eradicate cervical cancer encouraged 25 more nations to adopt the human papillomavirus vaccine, increasing the total to 58 since the program's start in 2020.

Looking ahead, WHO's Programme Budget for 2024–2025 highlights the importance of addressing health inequalities, mitigating COVID-19-induced disruptions, and bridging persisting health workforce deficits through enhanced education and employment investments. The forthcoming budget aims to strike a delicate balance between strengthening WHO's normative functions and fortifying country-level capacities, with an overarching aim of expediting progress towards realizing the triple billion targets outlined in the GPW 13 framework (WHO's strategy for the period 2019-2023).

(Data Source: WHO)

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