On 20-28 May 2019, Ministers of Heath and other leading global health policy makers will gather in Geneva, Switzerland for the 72nd session of the World Health Assembly (WHA). This annual meeting brings together high-level health representatives to discuss pressing challenges in public health. It is an important week for many in the global health policy community because it provides opportunities to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders, generate momentum on issues and contribute to the dialogue around policies that influence political will and resources for health at the global, national and local levels.
In addition to the formal agenda, there are also technical briefings and official side events hosted by countries and their partners. Civil society groups and private sector organizations also host public events to inform delegates about their initiatives and build constituencies around various global health issues.
What is on the agenda this year?
Major themes for this year’s WHA are universal health coverage and global health security, which Dr. Tedros, Director-General of the World Health Organization, has called “two sides of the same coin.” Non-communicable diseases will also continue to be an important topic of discussion at many of this year’s side events, as item 11.8 on the formal agenda.
In preparation for the upcoming High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at September’s United Nations General Assembly, conversations at this year’s World Health Assembly will focus on UHC in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, coverage of health services, spending on health care and the provision of primary health care.
Two reports to the Assembly focus on primary health care (building on the outcomes of the Astana conference last fall) and the critical role of community health workers. Coming just weeks after the multisectoral hearing on UHC held at the UN in New York, it will be interesting the extent to which the WHA takes up the 6 Asks of UHC 2030, including their call for a whole-of-society response (including civil society and the private sector) and the “7th Ask” of Women in Global Health for an emphasis on gender equality as countries develop and implement their UHC strategies.
Global health security and preparedness
A standing agenda item – global health security and public health preparedness, will be buoyed by a look back on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, as well as a look into the current crisis in the DRC. The conversations will likely also include overviews of the WHO reports on antimicrobial resistance and access to vaccines. Notably, the private sector is mentioned as a key stakeholder in “Draft Road Map for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Other Health Products, 2019-2023,” in which the WHO says it will engage the private sector to find solutions to health challenges by leveraging innovative technologies and research and development. The WHO also acknowledges the multisectoral nature of antimicrobial resistance and the need for an engagement strategy that includes the private sector and civil society and outlines specific platforms through which to engage them.
You can find a copy of the provisional WHO agenda for WHA here.
Connect with us at WHA! We will host a number of events and meetings at the InterContinental Geneva hotel. Please be sure to stop by and say hello!
Here’s where you can find us:
• Monday, May 20th, 9AM-5PM at the Rome suite
• Tuesday, May 21st, 7AM-5PM in Foyer D
• Wednesday, May 22nd, 9AM-12PM at the Paris suite
• Thursday, May 23rd, 12:30PM-2PM, join us for “The Road to Universal Health Coverage” an event with the Graduate Institute Geneva at Maison de la Paix. Event details and registration info here.
Interested in developing your strategy or positioning on relevant WHA agenda items with government delegations? Looking for support in securing or facilitating bi-lateral or multi-lateral meetings? Need help navigating the long list of side sessions or securing an invitation to an event? Please contact Tina Flores at [email protected].
We look forward to seeing you in Geneva!