GHC Hosts First WHA Policy Scrum of 2017

Global Health Council (GHC) hosted a WHA Policy Scrum at InterAction’s headquarters in Washington, DC (and via webinar) on April 5, 2017. GHC’s WHA Policy Scrums are an annual series of meetings leading up to the World Health Assembly each year. They provide a space for the global health community to share priorities and concerns around WHA policy issues.

The 70th World Health Assembly will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from May 22 – 31, 2017.

Our first policy scrum attracted a total of 64 participants across 20 countries, including representatives from governments, private sector, nonprofits, and development partners. It was led by GHC President and Executive Director Loyce Pace. Useful links and major highlights from the meeting are listed below.

Useful Links:

Major Highlights:

WHA 2017 Agenda Topics

The main topics of interest brought up by participants included: non-communicable diseases, global health security, and global strategies. More in-depth conversations about these issues will be held in our upcoming webinars.

U.S. Leadership and Funding

There was a brief discussion on U.S. government priorities and budget cuts. The general feedback from government officials to the global health community is that cuts are a reality and will happen across several programs; including programs that the U.S. government considers priority areas, such as; epidemic preparedness, health research and development, and global health security. The current administration’s position is therefore to identify key priorities, and to fund them at a level which they believe is the U.S.’s appropriate share and responsibility to the global community.

Participants around the room commented that they had heard of heavy discussions around reworking assessed and voluntary contributions from the U.S. government. It was suggested that a good strategy in arguing for discretionary spending on particular programs is to capitalize on their economic benefits to the United States as a selling point, as this is the language that the current administration responds to.

How Should CSOs Respond to Imminent Budget Cuts?

The loss of funding will undermine progress in across several critical issue areas, and there are major concerns about how budget cuts will particularly impact WHO.

Loyce cited our need to work together as a global health community and develop a community advocacy message – something that we have already been working on. Loyce also highlighted the urgent need to broker more focused dialogue, on how to stay strong as a community. How do we prepare for the impact of severe budget cuts to our work and how can we move forward positively?

U.S. WHA 2017 Delegation

There were several questions in the room and online, about who would make up the U.S. delegation at WHA 2017. Some participants were able to confirm that Irene Koek from USAID; Price, Mitchell Wolfe, and Peter Mamacos from HHS; and Tracy Carson, U.S. Health Attache, would be a part of the U.S. contingent. There was a debate about whether there would be any representative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as CDC currently does not have a main lead at this time.

Loyce gave a quick summary of some of the main issues that the U.S. delegation would take a keen interest in. These include the WHO Director-General Election, Global Health Security, Epidemic Preparedness, the debate around the High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, and U.S. leadership at the multilateral level.

Events and Coordination

Several participants shared details about a number of WHA side-events that their organizations will be hosting in Geneva, Switzerland. Common themes of side events include non-communicable diseases, maternal and child health, global health security, research and development, and gender equality.

GHC is compiling a complete calendar of all public WHA side events on our website, and we will be updating it regularly as details are made available. A special events update will also be sent out to our subscriber list (sign-up: http://tinyurl.com/ghcnewsletter) a week before WHA to facilitate your planning. Please forward details of any events that you would like to have featured on our calendar and in our events update to us at events@globalhealth.org.

Resolutions and Statements

A Cancer Prevention Resolution is on the WHA 2017 Agenda. There will be more details on this and other possible resolutions in our upcoming webinars.

There will be a flexible timeline for submission of statements by GHC member organizations (see statement guidelines: http://globalhealth.org/what-we-do/member-engagement/wha70). 

GHC Delegates and Logistics

With over 70 participants, GHC will host ones of the largest delegations at WHA. WHA Delegate positions for GHC individual members are currently filled up, but there are still spots left for our organizational members. More information about our delegation can be found on GHC’s website: http://globalhealth.org/what-we-do/member-engagement/wha70. For inquiries regarding logistics for WHA 2017, please contact Liz Kohlway, GHC Communications and Member Engagement Manager at ekohlway@globalhealth.org.

Please save the date for our next WHA Policy Scrum Webinar on April 25, 2017. More details will be made available soon.