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142nd WHO Executive Board (EB) Session Updates

Global Health Council (GHC) is hosting a delegation to the 142nd Session of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Executive Board (EB) Session. The WHO EB Session is currently in progress in Geneva, Switzerland and will conclude on January 27The following updates were provided by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager, Global Health Council.

142nd WHO EB Meeting in session. Photo credit: Danielle Heiberg



Reflections on WHO’s Thirteenth Global Programme of Work (GPW13) – Women in Global Health

Make sure to follow @GlobalHealthOrg on Twitter to stay informed of live updates from our delegates and partners attending the Session.

Day 3: Midway Through

The EB covered several topics today: Public Health Preparedness and Response (NSA statements); Polio Transition; Health, environment and climate change; and Addressing the global shortage and access to medicines and vaccines.

Matt Robinson with GHTC provided a short write up on the last issue:

The afternoon session on access to medicines produced far less controversy than expected. Though the topic remains contentious overall, the late introduction of a resolution asking WHO to spend the next year developing a “roadmap” for its work on access to medicines appeared to defuse any simmering tension by providing the opportunity for more dialogue behind closed doors. The session reached such consensus that New Zealand actually proposed closing debate without hearing statements from non-EB members, unless there were any objections. As a result of the resolution, expect this debate to continue over the coming year.

GHC members presented statements on preparedness and responsepolio transition and access to medicines.

The GHC delegation met with members of the U.S. delegation at the WHO EB Session.

In addition, GHC’s delegation met with Garrett Grigsby and Jenifer Healy from the Office of Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Tomorrow, (Thursday, January 25), the debate will begin with the Global strategy and action plan on public health, innovation, and intellectual property, followed by the agenda items on the high-level meetings on NCDs and TB. The EB will be in session during the day, as well as the evening in order to get through a number of agenda items.



Day 2: Public Health Preparedness and Response

Today the Executive wrapped up agenda item 3.1 on the draft Global Programme of Work. GHC read a statement that included a few areas of concern specifically on health workforce, WASH and polio transition.

The EB also considered WHO reform, as well as agenda item 3.3. on Public Health Preparedness and Response. The session ended later so that all Member States could provide their interventions. Tomorrow morning (Wednesday, January 24) the session will open with statements from NSAs. PATH will read a statement on behalf of GHC, AAP, PATH, GHTC, and IDSA.

Philippe Guinot, PATH, reads the EB statement on Agenda 3.3 Public Health Preparedness and Response on behalf of GHC, AAP, PATH, GHTC, and IDSA.

The U.S. government, led by Garrett Grigsby from the Office of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, delivered a statement on preparedness and response that touched on several ideas (special thanks to Annie Toro for the summary):

1) Highlighted the importance for the Joint External Evaluations (JEEs) to drive preparedness and HSS
2) Enforced standard operating procedures to ensure consistency across regions
3) For health emergencies, a dashboard should be shared with member states
4) R&D – work with all partners in emergency contexts
5) Full IHR implementation is key and an obligation of WHO
6) Consider the important role of sectors outside of health for security purposes
7) Consider issues regarding biosafety as well as national and financial issues for biosecurity

To find out what is next on the agenda, follow the daily journals (published every morning, Geneva time) here:


Day 1: Tedros’ Dialogue with Member States

The WHO Executive Board (EB) session kicked off with a dialogue between Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Member States. Dr. Tedros’ speech focused on three key elements: Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Global Health Security (GHS), and what the WHO of the future looks like.

A few highlights:

1) Dr. Tedros will send letters to the heads of all Member States challenging them to commitment to three concrete steps to achieve universal health coverage. He will ask Member States to make their commitments at the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA) in May.
2) Since the start of his tenure, Dr. Tedros has been working to strengthen foundations of organization; developing a plan to transform that includes a “rethink” of resource mobilization for the agency; and building strong leadership including achieving gender parity in top ranks and geographical diversity.
3) Dr. Tedros put out a call to Member States to commit in-kind supply donations and personnel to a “Global Health Reserve Army” that could be ready to respond to an outbreak within 72 hours.
4) In regards to funding for WHO, Dr. Tedros spoke several times about the need for “unearmarked” funds to allow the agency greater flexibility in addressing priorities.

Dr. Tedros’ comments should be available here.

Before adjourning for the day, the EB began member statements on agenda item 3.1 the Global Program of Work. On the second day, the remaining 15 Member States will give their statements followed by non-state actors.

We expect several statements to be read by our delegation today on the Global Program of Work, Public Health Preparedness and Response, and possibly, Polio Transition Planning.



142nd WHO Executive Board Session Begins in Geneva: GHC Delegation to Read Statements on Multiple Agenda Items

Broken Chair at the Place Des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

This year, Global Health Council (GHC) is hosting a delegation to the 142nd Session of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Executive Board (EB) Session. The EB Session is currently in progress in Geneva, Switzerland and will conclude on January 27.  The full agenda, associated documents, along with the live-webcast link can be accessed at GHC’s events calendar.

Discussion and debate of WHO’s Draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work (GPW) will emphasize three priorities: 1 billion more people with health coverage; 1 billion more people made safer from health emergencies, and 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being. WHO, under the leadership of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the organization, plans to reshape its operations, and place greater importance on accountability and impact. The organization intends to use the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a foundation for its global health priorities.

As we speak, the following speakers from the GHC delegation are preparing to read their statements at the WHO EB Session. Each of the statements corresponds to specific agenda items featured in the Provisional Agenda (EB 142/1) and are submitted by GHC member organizations.

1) 3.1: Draft 13th General Programme of Work 2019-2023  – The joint statement from GHC supported by ACTION and Frontline Health Workers Coalition will be read by Danielle Heiberg, Global Health Council.

2) 3.3: Public Health Preparedness and Response – This joint statement from GHC supported by PATH, Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) will be read by Philippe Guinot, PATH.

3) 3.4 Polio Transition PlanningThis joint statement from GHC supported by PATH, ACTION, RESULTS UK, and AAP will be read by Philippe Guinot, PATH.

4) 3.6 Addressing the Global Shortage of, and Access to, Medicines and Vaccines – This joint statement from GHC supported by PATH, AAP, and NCD Child will be read by Mychelle Yvette Farmer, NCD Child.

5) 3.7 Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property – This joint statement from GHC, supported by IDSA, will be read by Rabita Aziz, IDSA.

6) 3.8 Preparation for the Third High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), to be held in 2018 – This joint statement from Global Health Council, supported by NCD Child, AAP, and IFPA, will be ready by Mychelle Yvette Farmer, NCD Child.

7) 3.9 Preparation for the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Ending Tuberculosis  – This joint statement from GHC, supported by IDSA, will be read by Rabita Aziz, IDSA.

8) 4.2 Physical Activity for Health – This joint statement by GHC supported by AAP and NCD Child will be read by  Mychelle Yvette Farmer, NCD Child.

9) 4.3 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030): Early Childhood Development – This joint statement by GHC supported by AAP and NCD Child will be read by Mychelle Yvette Farmer, NCD Child.

10) 4.4 mHealth – This joint statement from GHC supported by Living Goods will be read by Annie Toro, United States Pharmacopeia.

11) 4.6.1 Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition: Biennial Report – This joint statement from GHC supported by AAP and NCD Child will be read by Mychelle Yvette Farmer, NCD Child.

Make sure to follow @GlobalHealthOrg on Twitter to stay informed of live updates from our delegates and partners attending the Session.

Tips for Tedros from Civil Society

In July, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus began his tenure as the new Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO). Prior to taking office, Global Health Council (GHC) and partners hosted a World Health Assembly (WHA70) side-event, “Priorities for the Next WHO Director General” to discuss which items the new WHO DG should tackle, and how that leader should work with key partners and stakeholders, specifically civil society. From that event and with support from its members, GHC formulated the recommendations below for Dr. Tedros and team on how WHO can maximize its potential and outreach.  

We stand behind leadership at the World Health Organization (WHO) in driving an agenda for health and wellness worldwide. We believe civil society is critical to those efforts. We recommend the following steps as Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus begins his tenure (Download the full document here):

  1. Listen.

Any good leader knows to listen first. In particular, Dr. Tedros needs to understand critical assumptions and opinions about WHO, and outstanding questions regarding its way forward. Only then can he respond meaningfully to internal and external concerns, and restore confidence in the institution. Listening also allows the new director-general to learn how best to leverage the contributions and talent of staff and missions as well as tailor initiatives and objectives that meet the needs of member states.

  1. Be strategic.

The leadership challenge at WHO is both short- and long-term. It is just as much about what one does today as what one does tomorrow. Dr. Tedros should immediately have conversations with staff and stakeholders that outline his vision for the organization, with the expectation that a roadmap will be delivered after a clearly defined amount of time. Ideally, he establishes a collective understanding regarding next steps. Then, takes action accordingly, prioritizing more pressing goals and activities on which WHO is most qualified to lead.

  1. Know your strengths.

There are issues and activities WHO must clearly take on. Conversely, the agency should leave some activities to other stakeholders. Dr. Tedros needs to make tough decisions about what the organization should and should not do with its limited resources and adopt a laser-focus on its highest and best use. (Ultimately, WHO and those it serves should be able to articulate and demonstrate its added value well.)

  1. Maximize return on investments.

Given WHO’s increasingly-limited resources, leadership must consistently develop and demonstrate value-for-dollar programs and campaigns. This, in turn, helps spur additional investments and enables the organization to unlock more capital for its important work. Dr. Tedros should invest wisely while exploring new avenues of funding that yield the most positive outcomes for the greatest population.

  1. Track success. And failure.

We heard often from previous leadership at WHO that what gets measured gets done. It is an age-old adage that rings just as true for the WHO of today as before. Dr. Tedros and his team should know when they’re doing well so they can expand on good work. It is just as important for them to know when that work is falling short of expectations so they can iterate, accordingly, mitigate negative outcomes, and ensure accountability in the process.

  1. Be transparent.

A key ingredient to ensuring WHO’s success is restoring public trust in the agency. It is no secret that trust in WHO has waned in recent years, with governments and civil society alike questioning its overall effectiveness. Dr. Tedros must face criticisms head-on, acknowledging shortcomings throughout the organization and outlining openly and transparently how he plans to course-correct and reconcile persistent challenges.

  1. Expand partnerships.

It will take many actors to realize the lofty goals of WHO. Therefore, it is critical to invite multiple stakeholders to the table in planning and implementing key initiatives. New champions yield new resources and perspectives that help advance the overall agenda in ways the agency sorely needs.

  1. Think broadly.

The SDG mandate provides an opportunity for WHO to be relevant beyond the health sector alone. World leaders have acknowledged the interconnectedness of development priorities and offered a framework of action for UN agencies and countries alike to partner across core objectives in pursuit of common goals. Dr. Tedros should ensure the agenda of WHO integrates social determinants and SDGs.

  1. Be proactive.

WHO should lead the way in transforming the way people around the world view health and wellness. In a perfect world, key global health priorities, innovations, and investments are driven by WHO. The agency should guide where we should focus our efforts across both long-standing commitments or persistent problems and emerging or less-familiar priorities. Dr. Tedros should be mindful of and sustain this leadership role.

  1. Always focus on the mission.

    Ultimately, there is a greater good that drives leadership and decision-making at WHO in a way that reflects its core purpose and mandate. That should serve as Dr. Tedros’ North Star throughout his tenure and be something he and his team come back to throughout the organization’s direction (or trajectory). Only then can WHO ensure it is acting in service to communities globally and have a meaningful impact.

  2. Tell your story. (We will too.)

    In general, people don’t know WHO. They do not fully understand or appreciate its vast contributions and ultimate value to society.  WHO should communicate how it improves the lives of people worldwide and why the public should care. Ideally, Dr. Tedros encourages public relations campaigns that highlight WHO’s remarkable work and global health leadership.

The world needs WHO to set global health policy and to listen to the health needs of the poor and most vulnerable.

A Long Awaited Commitment to Tackling Dementia

This post was written by Assumpta Nantume, Communications Associate at Global Health Council.

At the 70th World Health Assembly in May this year, member states and delegates endorsed a Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia. This pivotal moment followed 10 years of continued conversation, advocacy, and calls for commitment from civil society for the World Health Organization (WHO) to increase recognition of the extensive scale of dementia and the need for immediate collective action.

Dementia poses an overwhelming social and economic burden on individuals, their families, and society at large. Moreover, 58% of people living with dementia live in low- and middle-income countries where access to social protection, mental health services, support, and care are very limited.

An older married couple in Guiguinto, Philippines. © 2015 erickaustria, Courtesy of Photoshare

This situation is further complicated by the poor understanding of mental illness across cultures. Dementia has long been viewed as a natural process of aging, and in poorer communities, it is rarely acknowledged as a serious health concern even when day-to-day tasks become a challenge to the affected individual. In the developed world too, families and caretakers often wait too long before seeking medical advice once a loved one begins presenting with early symptoms like memory loss.

It is also estimated that nearly three-quarters of global dementia cases are undiagnosed; therefore, patients do not have access to the treatment, care, and support that they need. There are several interventions that can be used to delay or slow down the progression of dementia once an individual has been diagnosed – an opportunity that is often lost by either neglecting or not being able to access timely care.

This why the adoption of the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia is such a crucial step in protecting the world’s rapidly aging population and enabling senior citizens worldwide to live a more comfortable and dignified life.

One of the key objectives laid out in the public health response is to promote awareness and close the knowledge gap on dementia in communities where the subject of mental illness is still largely taboo. The global plan also aims to spur action by governments to obtain better data on their population needs, and thereby invest in much-needed infrastructure, programs, and interventions to provide appropriate care for the elderly.

While these new gains and commitments are very promising, civil society must continue to advocate tirelessly for the health and welfare of our senior citizens, and collaborate further to cement this progress. The Global Alzheimer’s and Dementia Action Alliance (GADAA), a champion of global action on dementia, has been a key mobilizer and convener of civil society during the consultation on the draft global action plan, ensuring that our voices and perspectives are included.

By 2050, the world’s population over the age of 60 is projected to make up 22% of the global population. Dementia can no longer be sidelined as a non-urgent priority. We need robust investments to cut down on the years lost and exorbitant economic cost incurred due to the disability dementia imparts on individuals.

Global Health Council’s Collective Voice Converges in Geneva for WHA70

Last week the Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA70) concluded in Geneva, Switzerland. It was a whirlwind WHA with a WHO Director-General election, and several agenda items – from Health Systems to Communicable Diseases – addressed.

Global Health Council (GHC) sent a robust delegation of 70 members to WHA70, representing multiple health priorities. Many of GHC’s WHA delegates took part in daily huddles, read statements to the Assembly, and partnered on side-events. Although the delegation’s voices were diverse, they were united in celebrating the power of civil society.

Check out the highlights from the blogs of GHC’s WHA delegates and advocates below or peruse through GHC’s WHA70 Storify.

Heroines of Health: Celebrating Women in Global Health
by Women in Global Health

Global Health Security: Why Women Matter
Katherine C. Bond, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)

Attacks on Healthcare, Where do We Stand One Year After the Adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2286?
by Len Rubenstein, 
Johns Hopkins Blomberg School of Public Health and Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition

The Power and Promise of Digital Health for Africa
by Lesley-Anne Long

Chronic Childhood Disease: A Personal, Local, and Global Struggle
by Elizabeth Montgomery Collins
, Individual GHC Member

Health in All Policies
by Terry L Schmidt DrHA MBA (MPH)
, Individual GHC Member

Why Investments in Frontline Health Workers Matter: Preventing Needless Deaths through Trusted Healthcare Relationships
by Samalie Kitooleko, Uganda Rheumatic Heart Disease Registry and Belinda Ngongo, Public Health Institute