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ISN Urges the 74th WHA to Take Immediate Actions to Advance Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health

74th World Health Assembly

Statement on Agenda Item 16 Committing to implementation of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016−2030)

Honorable Chair, distinguished delegates,

The ISN welcomes the report by the WHO Director-General on Committing to implementation of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health (2016–2030) and reiterates its support for the eponymous 2016 WHA resolution.

However, the ISN notes the limited attention given to kidney disease, despite chronic kidney disease (CKD) being the 8th leading cause of death among women worldwide, with over 195 million women being affected by CKD and over 600,000 dying every year from it.

During pregnancy, women face additional risks to their kidney health, as those who experience preeclampsia/eclampsia are 4-5 times more likely to develop kidney failure. Before and during pregnancies, poor maternal health and nutrition have adverse consequences on the development of the fetal kidney, leading to an increased risk of kidney disease in the child. Low birth weight and prematurity, substantially affected by maternal nutrition and health during pregnancies, alongside rapid childhood weight gain, are associated with increased risk of hypertension and kidney disease later in life.

Adolescent girls and young women remain disproportionately represented among the people acquiring HIV, as in 2019 almost 75% of the 300.000 people aged 15–24 acquiring HIV were women. HIV infection can damage the kidneys and lead to kidney disease, and the risk of developing acute kidney injury and CKD remains higher in HIV-infected persons compared to the general population.

Accordingly, we call upon Member States and the WHO to:

  • Prioritize the development of policies and programs that tackle kidney disease and other NCDs, taking into consideration the specific needs and context for women, children, and adolescents.
  • Ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not undermine the progress already made in women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health, by mitigating the threats and implementing gender-sensitive measures to improve their overall health and well-being.
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