FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs

Federated States of Micronesia Sent a Delegation to the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva; Elected Vice-Chairs of WHO Executive Board

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) proudly participated in the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) held in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 27 to June 1, 2024. The Secretary of Health and Social Affairs, Mr. Marcus H. Samo, led the FSM Delegation and was staffed by Dr. Mayleen Ekiek, Communicable Diseases Program Manager; Ms. Margaret Baekalia, Acting Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Program Manager; and Mr. Ruotpong Pongliyab, Public Health and Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program Director. Together they covered the work of the various technical committees, plenary sessions, and other side-events important to FSM health development. The FSM Delegation actively engaged in high-level discussions and delivered crucial interventions on pressing global health issues, including tuberculosis (TB) and vaccination, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and strengthening emergency preparedness for disasters resulting from natural hazards.  In his remarks at the plenary session, Secretary Samo shared FSM’s vision of “Better Health for All”, which reflects this year’s WHA theme of “All for Health, Health for All”.  He pointed out that there are many challenges before us and that we must “triple our investment in health” if we are to realize our goals, and that even as a small island nation we continue to work towards a future where “our communities are prepared, resilient and united” and that by “working together, we weave a mat of strength that can support us through any storm.” 

TB and Vaccination

In addressing the Assembly, FSM highlighted its ongoing efforts and challenges in combating tuberculosis and improving vaccination coverage. FSM stressed the importance of robust immunization programs to prevent TB and other infectious diseases, emphasizing the need for continued international support and collaboration to enhance healthcare infrastructure and access to vaccines in the Pacific region.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

FSM voiced its concerns over the escalating threat of antimicrobial resistance, which poses a significant risk to public health globally and may be the cause for the next pandemic. The delegation called for urgent action to implement effective antimicrobial stewardship programs, promote research and development and enhancement of surveillance systems to monitor and control AMR. FSM also underscored the importance of raising awareness and educating communities about the responsible use of antibiotics.

Strengthening Emergency Preparedness for Disasters Resulting from Natural Hazards

Given its vulnerability to natural hazards, FSM placed a strong emphasis on strengthening emergency preparedness and response capacities. The delegation shared insights from experiences with the recent pandemic and highlighted the critical need for resilient health systems that can withstand and respond effectively to emergencies. FSM advocated for increased investment in disaster risk reduction, capacity building, and international cooperation to support small island developing states in managing health emergencies.

Commitment to Global Health

The FSM delegation reaffirmed its commitment to advancing global health priorities and contributing to the collective efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). FSM expressed gratitude to the World Health Organization (WHO) and international partners for their continued support and collaboration in addressing health challenges faced by small island nations.

Immediately following the 77th WHA, the WHO held the 155th meeting of its Executive Board, where FSM was elected to be one of four Vice Chairs, along with Maldives, Cameroon, and Switzerland under the leadership of Barbados as the Chair.

The election of FSM as a Vice-Chair is a testament to its growing influence and commitment to global health and will actively participate in guiding the WHO’s strategic decisions, ensuring that the voices and concerns of small island developing states are represented in global health discussions and will continue to work to address critical health challenges, promoting sustainable health policies, and supporting the implementation of effective health initiatives worldwide.

FSM expresses its gratitude to the WHO member states for their confidence and support. This election underscores FSM’s dedication to enhancing global health governance and its commitment to fostering international cooperation. FSM looks forward to contribute significantly to the upcoming WHO Executive Board meeting in January, where crucial decisions will be made to shape the future of global health.