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Why Investments in Frontline Health Workers Matter: Preventing needless deaths through trusted healthcare relationships

 This guest post has been co-authored by Samalie Kitooleko, Nurse In-Charge of Uganda Rheumatic Heart Disease Registry & and Belinda Ngongo, Global Health Leaders Fellow, Public Health Institute. Samalie is a recipient of the Heroines of Health Award 2017, and Belinda is a part of GHC’s delegation to the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA70)

Samalie Kitooleko during our panel session, Against All Odds: Strengthening Health Systems to Better Serve Women and Children

Samalie’s Story

It all started when I nursed a young female university student with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD). As a teen she had received a mechanical valve replacement requiring her to take an anticoagulant daily, which she did without fail. During her third year, she became pregnant and stopped taking her anticoagulant medication without medical consultation, thinking she was looking out for the best interest of her baby. Several days later, she lost her baby and I saw her passing away on her graduation day, suffering from valve thrombosis, a condition which could have easily been prevented if she hadn’t defaulted her medication. In that moment, I vowed to never see another woman die of preventable complications. No one should die because they lack appropriate healthcare knowledge in today’s world.

I began counselling women intending to undergo mechanical valve replacement, educating them about necessary medications and lifestyle changes. Initially, I dealt with very few women however in 2013, when the RHD register was established in Uganda, the numbers become rather overwhelming so I developed novel ways of addressing them at scale, forming a patient support group on WhatsApp. Patients used this platform as a way to pose questions to the broader group and it became an incredible group to share knowledge with.

As a nurse in Uganda, I spend most of my time caring for patients affected with chronic cardiovascular illnesses such as congenital heart disease, myocardial infarction, and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). My typical day starts at 7 AM and ends at 9 PM. During this time, my work involves updating the RHD registry with new patients, those that have died and identifying those that are lost to follow-up. I then spend the day in the outpatient clinic counseling patients, enrolling patients in the RHD registry, and administering Benzathine Penicillin injections in the Coumadin clinic which I run concurrently. Due to limited staff, I also work closely with patients affected by all other noncommunicable diseases including diabetes, hypertension and cancer. I’m proud to provide a patient-centered approach during delivery of care, spending time getting to know and following up with the women I serve.

The Case for Frontline Health Workers

Like Samalie, there are many other frontline health workers (FLHWs) in developing countries committed to caring for patients and pressured to work long hours under poor conditions in deplorable infrastructure and limited sundries. To make matters worse, their hard work is rarely recognized and they are compensated poorly for their incessant efforts to improve health and wellbeing of populations. The exodus of FLHWs from the health sector can be attributed to some of the current chaotic and constrained environment. The pursuit of non-health related employment opportunities compromises the quality of care already aggravated by the major shortage of staff in most health care facilities.  It is therefore important that we answer these questions – Why do we need to care about FLHWs? What do we need to do to retain, satisfy and support FLHWs?

Undoubtedly, to improve service delivery and lower staff turnover, appropriate compensation and recognition of frontlines’ efforts is imperative for increased motivation and morale. Such recognition can be in form of being acknowledged as best performers of a given period, promotions and better wages and including them in critical global health and health systems conversations. FLHWs need to be well equipped with knowledge and skills and understand trends and strategies to accelerate the implementation of appropriate interventions to effectively combat disease. They also need to be provided with ongoing training and career advancement opportunities in order to ensure persistent delivery of quality services.
One stumbling block in the health systems arises from the fact that FLHWs have limited decision making power and their potential contributions are hindered by certain rules and regulations. For example, in Uganda nurses are now allowed to provide a prescription but are limited to making a nursing diagnosis and care plan. Policies need to be reviewed and where appropriate influence of frontline should to be augmented and task shifting implemented. Promising models of how FLHWs are managing NCDs can be found here.

The gender lens aspect is important to ponder when alluding to FLHWs, especially since it is recognized that 75% of global health work is done by women. Women deliver the bulk of health care worldwide in the formal and informal sectors. Most FLHWs are women. They usually work under pressure to balance family and societal responsibilities in resource – limited settings, leaving their lives and those of their families at stake. Despite working tirelessly to restore the health of other people, on many occasions’ health and life of FLHWs are not carted and likewise despite their important contribution to global health and the dependence on women as providers of health care, according to a recent report women have very few leadership positions in the health systems.

FLHWs play a vital role in initiating the referral process through timely and comprehensive communication, provide ongoing support and care to patients and their families. Referral of patients may affect treatment and continuity of care and can affect clinical outcomes and costs thus  clear guidance from facility staff is critical. They need to be part of the referral process.

In summation, FLHWs deserve to be recognized for their dedicated and generous contribution towards the health and wellbeing of the populations they serve. In return, they also need to be healthy in all aspects, valued, respected, supported, protected, compensated adequately and work in appropriate.

This week, WHA70 gives us an opportunity to further elevate the voice of FLHWs to encourage further investment and support for those saving lives on the frontline. Join us in helping to elevate their voice!

Learn More: 

Global Health Security: Why Women Matter
Maternal child health

As the world responds to a new outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, many may not realize that women tend to be at greatest risk. If this outbreak follows previous patterns, as many as 75% of those infected will be women, which has massive implications for families and society at large.
To help women survive and thrive, it is imperative that health security efforts focus not only on building response capacity to emergencies like the last Ebola pandemic, but on creating more resilient health systems. As I prepare for the World Health Assembly which begins May 22 in Geneva, Switzerland, I hope to help bring more attention to key components of effective healthcare delivery: the availability of quality assured medicines, and the human workforce to sustain services in the face of pandemic threats.
If these efforts are to have a lasting impact, it is critical that women, already the traditional caregivers in many communities, be part of those efforts.

Women’s Disproportionate Burden

Women are disproportionately affected during health crisis situations for several reasons. Lower socioeconomic standing means women often have poorer nutrition and lack access to education and basic health services. Traditional gender roles means women are more likely to be exposed to disease because they are the primary caregivers. Women prepare meals, care for the sick and attend to the dead. Women also make most health care decisions in the family.  Simply put, women are at the center of global health security.
High-profile emergencies, such as Ebola, Zika and Influenza, demand responses that require not only effective services, but also effective treatments. But in low- and middle-income countries regulatory authorities often face daily challenges assuring medicines quality, even outside a crisis situation. The growth of online distributors, according to the WHO, now means there is not a single country that is untouched by this problem of substandard or falsified medicines.
Shortages in quality-assured medicines hamper health emergency responses during outbreaks, they undermine continued efforts to reduce the impact of the tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS epidemics and impede improvements in maternal and child health outcomes.

Women Leaders in Science, Policy and Practice

Resilience during public health crises requires investing in health systems and people, especially women, as agents of change.
USP collaborates with the WHO, national medicines regulatory authorities, manufacturers and other partners to increase the supply of quality-assured essential medicines by building technical capacity and human resources at all levels. In Africa, for example, in 2015 USP created the Women in Science Exchange (W.I.S.E.), a program to empower and mentor female students and professionals in science and help them to advance into leadership positions. Recognizing that women are under-represented in the African health workforce, the program paired female students with mentors, African women who are established leaders in pharmaceutical, medical or regulatory science.
In a recent visit to Myanmar, I was struck by the efforts of the head of the recently accredited National Medicines Quality Control lab, Dr. Khin Chit, to mentor her staff, over 90% of whom were young women, reflecting a similar shift in opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Women leaders in science

USP also provides on-site training for quality-assurance professionals around the world. In 2016, USP facilitated the training of over 1,000 individuals from 19 countries – over 500 of which were women. Together these efforts seek to improve the pipeline of future women scientists. We can all do better to support women in science as part of building resilient health systems.

Looking to the Future

Neither pathogens nor medical products respect national borders. Substandard and falsified medicines may be uncommon in the U.S. and other industrialized and middle income nations but global supply chains and travel make all of us vulnerable to health threats associated with poor quality medicines. They fail to treat infectious diseases and contribute to drug resistance, elevating the risk of further spread, locally and globally.
To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, everyone needs medicines that are accessible, affordable and  quality assured. USP is committed to investing in women and strengthening systems across the globe so the medicines people take are quality-assured, no matter their gender or where they live.

World Health Assembly (#WHA70) Social Media Alerts

Day 1: Monday, May 22, 2017

Highlights from Yesterday

Check out the best of our social media coverage from our Welcome Reception and Women in Global Health’s Heroines of Health Dinner. Please share as much as you can.

{RETWEET} @globalgamechngr: Great kickoff to #WHA70, starting with @GlobalHealthOrg delegate mixer & capped off by @womeninGH partnership celebrating “health heroines.”

{RETWEET} @RonPiervincenzi: Excited to be here at #WHA70, looking forward to connecting with #globalhealth delegates and partners at @GlobalHealthOrg Welcome Reception

{RETWEET} @GlobalHealthOrg: A great start to #WHA70! Thank you to GHC board member @lenrubenstein for his inspirational remarks at our delegates Welcome Reception.

{RETWEET} @GlobalHealthOrg: We need to create an enabling environment for women – #WHODG candidate @SaniaNishtar #WomeninGH

{RETWEET} @FHWCoalition: Ugandan #nurse Samalie honored as #healthheroines2017 @ #WHA70 for inspiring work fighting #heartdisease. Her story: http://ow.ly/OQ2D30bUSmH

{RETWEET} @womeninGH: Great to see @davidnabarro at #healthheroines2017 celebrating #womeningh. #Genderequality in #globalhealth needs great leadership! #wha70

{RETWEET} @PeterASinger: .@DrTedros — a champion of gender equality & #SRHR — with Heroines of Health #wha70

{RETWEET} @davidnabarro: Thank you @womeninGH for inviting me to #heroinesofhealth2017 event. Committed to #genderequality across WHO if I am #NextDG

In addition, GHC delegate Joseph Harris took some notes from yesterday’s Introduction to the World Health Assembly: A Briefing for Delegates at the Graduate Institute. Feel free to review and share!

Today’s Events

Today at 4 PM CET, we continue to cast a light on women leadership in global health with our event: Enabling Global Health Security through Health Systems Strengthening: Perspectives from Women Leaders. Help us spread the word:

{SHARE} #WHA70 kicks off today! A priority item on today’s agenda is #GlobalHealthSecurity. Join us for this discussion: pic.twitter.com/sv4jrH6hou

{SHARE} Join us today at 4 PM CET to hear women leaders share their perspectives on #GlobalHealthSecurity: pic.twitter.com/sv4jrH6hou  #WHA70

{SHARE} Women leaders offer unique perspectives on #GlobalHealthSecurity at #WHA70. Watch the live stream at 4PM CET: http://ow.ly/2bJv30bO3eM

Facebook Post:

{SHARE} In an increasingly interconnected world, where diseases know no borders, #GlobalHealthSecurity efforts are vital to protecting both health around the world and the health of American citizens. Follow us today as women leaders share unique perspectives on advancing global health security. #WHA70 http://ow.ly/irps30bM5UM

Finally, please continue to use our #WHA70 Social Media Toolkit to generate content throughout the week, and if you have any items you would like us to include in our next alert, please email them to events@globalhealth.org.

DAY 2: TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2017

Highlights from yesterday

Yesterday, Dr. Margaret Chan gave her final address as WHO Director-General, and GHC co-hosted important conversations on two key agenda items: Global Health Security and Research & Development. Special thanks to all our partners for putting together informative discussions. Here are some of the day’s highlights:

{RETWEET} @globalgamechngr: GREAT to hear @HHSGov Secretary Price reiterate USG commitment to #globalhealth security, curbing impact on economy & stability. #WHA70

{RETWEET} @GlobalHealthOrg: Listen to civil society. Civil society can give citizens a face and voice – Dr. Margaret Chan @WHO DG #wha70

{RETWEET} @FHWCoalition: Building strong #healthsystems is necessary to prevent, detect & respond to #GlobalHealthSecurity threats -Ug health minister Aceng @ #WHA70

{RETWEET} @MBNalab: @BethCameron_DC: Synergized action & coordination among heath, security, finance sectors is needed to further GHS @GlobalHealthOrg#WHA70

{RETWEET} @GlobalHealthOrg: ICYMI: Here is a recording of our #GlobalHealthSecurity #WomenLeaders panel discussion: http://ow.ly/Yodo30bX1S0 #WHA70

{RETWEET} @JBayNishi: Sabine Campe of SEEK: Need new mechanisms to incentivize private investments in global health R&D #wha70 @GHTCoalition

{RETWEET} @LibbyInTheSky: Are you at the World Health Assembly? Welcome to Geneva! We are @GlobalHealthOrg at #WHA70. Follow our live updates:http://ow.ly/hpBu30bx7Ue 

Also check out and share GHC delegate blogs on Monday’s WHA side-events:

Enabling Global Health Security Through Health Systems Strengthening: Perspectives from Women Leaders – Anne Bell, USP

Attacks on healthcare. Where do we stand one year after the adoption of United Nations Security Council resolution 2286? – Len Rubenstein, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Today’s Events

Today at 12 PM CET GHC is co-hosting a discussion on Priorities for the Next WHO Director-General with partners: Dentons, Harvard Global Health Institute, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), and U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Secretary Thomas Price, U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services, will be our keynote speaker. This event will belive streamed. Please promote widely:

{SHARE} Day 2 at #WHA70: We are looking forward to the outcome of the #NextDG #WHOElection. Good luck to all the candidates!

{SHARE} The live webcast of today’s #WHA70 sessions begins at 9 AM CET. Tune in to follow the #NextDG #WHOElection: http://ow.ly/8kCV30bWuyF

{SHARE} Join us for a critical discussion on the #NextDG’s priorities – with keynote speaker @SecPriceMD @HHSgov. #WHA70 pic.twitter.com/FVuG4vKg1m

{SHARE} The #NextDG of @WHO should foster stronger relationships with civil society to advance #globalhealth: http://ow.ly/gjGc30bM7Lt #WHOElection

{SHARE} What priorities should the #NextDG of @WHO work to address? @SecPriceMD @MarianMSH @j_heals weigh in at #WHA70. pic.twitter.com/FVuG4vKg1m

Facebook Post:

{SHARE} With the World Health Organization (WHO) slated to elect a new Director-General during the Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA70), what is the potential impact new leadership can bring? Today, panelists from U.S. government, academia, the NGO community, and the private sector will hold a discussion on the implications of this election and its potential impact on the current fault lines of global health. http://ow.ly/TY6630bMj3R.

DAY 3: WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2017

Highlights from yesterday

Yesterday, after three rounds of voting, member states elected Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the next Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). He will take over from Dr. Margaret Chan on July 1, 2017.

Earlier this month, GHC hosted a small group discussion with Dr. Tedros, during which he expressed his commitment to working with civil society to address global health challenges. We look forward to connecting with Dr. Tedros and continuing to foster a valuable relationship with WHO under his leadership.

If you haven’t already, please join us again in congratulating Dr. Tedros with this easy {RETWEET}.

Below are more highlights from the WHO Director-General Election, including statements and reactions from some of our delegates and members.

{RETWEET} .@unfoundation Welcomes @DrTedros as the New Director-General of @WHO. #WHOElection #NextDG #WHA70 Read Statement: https://shar.es/1RrG6I

{RETWEET} @PATHTweets: PATH congratulates #NextDG @DrTedros and urges his action to address #globalhealth challenges & @WHO reformhttp://www.path.org/news/press-room/819/ … #WHA70

{RETWEET} @womeninGH: We congratulate @DrTedros @DrTedros4WHO for his new appointment. We look forward to following up on the commitment on #GenderEquality #WHA

{RETWEET} @davidnabarro: Congratulations to @DrTedros on his new role as Director-General of @WHO. I urge everyone to unite behind him & his vision #WHA70

{RETWEET} @SaniaNishtar: Congratulations @DrTedros on becoming Director-General of @WHO and @davidnabarro for a hard fought election.

{RETWEET} @GlobalHealthOrg: Closing remarks: Special thank you to Dr. Margaret Chan. We look forward to the #NextDG! #WHA70 @RonPiervincenzi@USPharmacopeia

{RETWEET} @USPharmacopeia: Wish list for 1st 100 days of #NextDG = 1) multi-sectoral approach 2)focus on prevention 3)gender equity per @JanMBeagle Exec Dir of @UNAIDS

{RETWEET} @USPharmacopeia: #NextDG needs to look at #globalhealth holistically & connect dots b/w SDGs & development, says @globalgamechngr Pres of @globalhealthorg

{RETWEET} @MBNalab: HHS Secretary Price on priorities for next DG: @WHO should be more effective, accountable, and transparent. @GlobalHealthOrg

{RETWEET} @GlobalHealthOrg: Did you miss our discussion on Priorities for the Next @WHO DG? Revisit the full recording: http://ow.ly/CNmJ30bZrD3 #WHA70 #WHOElection

As member states convene today to discuss Health Systems Strengthening, we would like to share a recap of our panel yesterday, Against All Odds: Strengthening Health Systems to Better Serve Vulnerable Women and Children.

{SHARE} #WHA70 Recap: Our diverse panel of delegates explores the challenges health systems face in complex settings: http://ow.ly/2wXO30bO6tg

{SHARE} ICYMI: How can we strengthen health systems to better serve women and children in complex settings? http://ow.ly/2wXO30bO6tg #WHA70

{SHARE} #HealthWorkers are critical to #HealthSystemsStrengthening. Our Heroine of Health, Samalie, shares her story: http://ow.ly/6Vpt30bZqX9 #WHA70


GHC Reflects on its Own First 100 Days
In global health, we know benchmarks matter. They’re the difference between whether a child reaches his or her 5th birthday or dies of a vaccine-preventable illness. They signal how a health system would respond to the next pandemic or humanitarian crisis. What gets measured gets done, and saves lives. That’s why GHC has been paying attention these first 100 days of 2017. We looked at what we’ve done to serve our members, and opportunities to make the greatest impact. Thank you to all of the global health advocates who have joined us so far. Read more.

GHC Hosts Discussion on U.S. Leadership and Engagement at WHA
On April 25, GHC convened various stakeholders for a critical dialogue on the U.S. government’s priorities at the Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA70). The one-hour webinar, which attracted over 60 participants from the non-profit, academia, international development, and government sectors, was the second in a series of WHA Policy Scrums organized by GHC in preparation for WHA70. We were honored to have special guest speakers with strong government backgrounds and experience at WHA participate in our webinar and share their insights on the best way for civil society to engage at WHA70. You can view brief notes or watch the full webinar recording that provide a recap of this important conversation. Please join us for our final WHA Policy Scrum and New Delegate Webinar on May 9. Registration details.

A New Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program in Africa
The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi will participate in the WHO-coordinated pilot implementation of the RTS,S malaria vaccine. RTS,S was developed to protect young children from infection by Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of the malaria parasites affecting humans. It is the first malaria vaccine candidate to be recommended for pilot implementation by WHO, and the first to receive a positive opinion from a stringent regulatory authority, the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program (MVIP) is being coordinated and led by WHO in close collaboration with Ministries of Health in the participating countries and a range of in-country and international partners. Learn more.

Call for Nongovernmental Organizations to apply for Consultative Status with the United Nations
The United Nations invites nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to apply for consultative status with its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) if they wish to be considered by the NGO Committee in 2018. NGOs that are accredited with ECOSOC can participate in a number of events including, but not limited to, regular sessions of ECOSOC, its functional commissions, and its other subsidiary bodies. Consultative relationships may be established with international, regional, sub-regional, and national non-governmental, non-profit public, or voluntary organizations. Those interested should submit their application and required documents by June 1. View the call for applications.

Global Resolve to End Neglected Tropical Diseases
The NTD Summit 2017, held between April 19 – 22, drew attention to the unprecedented progress and milestones that have been reached in efforts to control, eliminate, and eradicate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) over the last five years. For several decades, development of new drugs and vaccines to target the most debilitating NTDs, categorically described as diseases of poverty, stalled because there was simply no business incentive to do so. Since the signing of the London Declaration on NTDs in 2012, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, NGOs, and other partners have joined forces to bring treatment to millions of people afflicted by NTDs. NTDs kill, disable, disfigure, stigmatize, and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year in lost productivity. Progress in NTD eradication has been touted as a remarkable display of how U.S. foreign assistance works to eliminate obstacles to development. Read more.

Registration is Now Open for the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference
Women in Global Health (WGH) is a movement of dynamic professionals around the world, of all genders and backgrounds, working within many different areas of global health looking to achieve gender equality in global health leadership. WGH believes that diverse, gender-balanced leadership is key for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), improving health and well-being, and are working to give all genders an equitable voice in the global health arena. WGH is pleased to partner with Stanford University’s Center for Innovation in Global Health to present the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference this October 12. Registration is now open for this inaugural event. The conference builds on the global movement to press for gender equity in global health leadership by celebrating great works of emerging and established women in the field and cultivating the next generation of women leaders. More details.

WHA Policy Scrum on U.S. Leadership and Engagement at WHA70

On April 25, Global Health Council hosted a critical discussion on the U.S. government’s priorities at the Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA70). The one-hour session, held via webinar, was the second in a series of WHA Policy Scrums organized by GHC in preparation for WHA70.

We were honored to have special guest speakers with strong government backgrounds and experience at WHA participate in our webinar and share their insights on the best way for civil society to engage at WHA70.

On behalf of GHC’s members, we would like to thank Peter Mamacos, Director of Multilateral Relations, Office of Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); Jimmy Kolker, former Assistant Secretary of Global Affairs at HHS; and Matt Robinson, Policy and Advocacy Officer at Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) and PATH for participating in an informative discussion.



Who will be on the U.S. Delegation to WHA70?

A formal delegate list has not yet been finalized, but we received confirmation that HHS Secretary Tom Price will be in attendance, along with several other senior people across the U.S. government.

What are the U.S. government’s most critical areas of interest on the WHA Agenda?

The WHO Director General Election: The U.S. government has met with all the candidates and listened to their views. While the government cannot discuss or comment on who it intends to vote, Peter Mamacos invited civil society to share its input on the different candidates. You send your comments for Peter and his team to events@globalhealth.org.

WHO Funding: U.S. budget cuts, and the impact this will have on WHO funding, will be high on the priority list. The U.S. government has been mindful of ongoing WHO reforms while contemplating these budget cuts, and some agencies may take deeper cuts than others.

Access to Medicines: There are several medicine resolutions that have been tabled for discussion at WHA70. The U.S. government has concerns over the narrowness of the mandate on access to medicines.  View the U.S. government’s statement following the panel discussion on access to medicines held in Geneva, Switzerland on March 8.

The UN Resolution on Migrants: The U.S. government looks forward to holding a vigorous discussion on the migration crisis and addressing the gaps in emergency response and how to better support humanitarian efforts.

Health Research & Development: An R&D blueprint for potentially epidemic diseases and the newly launched Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Initiative are priority issues. A review of Joint External Evaluations and ongoing efforts to track emerging threats like H7 and H9 viruses are also critical.

Cancer Prevention and Control: Preparations are underway for the 2018 United Nations High-Level meeting on NCDs and will be explored further at WHA70.

Nutrition Agenda Items: The Report from the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) is of primary interest to the U.S. government.

*Note: This list is by no means exhaustive, and does not indicate all U.S. government priorities. Instead, it serves as a list of highlighted issues. Again, if there is an item that you would like to raise to the U.S. government, please email events@globalhealth.org.

Final Thoughts:

The U.S. government would like to hear civil society’s thoughts on agenda items for 2017. HHS appreciates our outreach and the agency welcomes civil society representatives to participate in the U.S. government WHA stakeholder listening session on May 5. RSVP is currently closed. Please contact OGA.RSVP@hhs.gov for more details about this event.

Secretary Price will give an opening statement on behalf of the U.S. delegation at WHA. We should try to utilize our HHS contacts to make contributions to that statement if there are important issues we would like the secretary to raise.

One of the most influential things that we can do at this moment, as civil society representatives, is to ask the U.S. government to hold WHO to its commitments. At the U.S. government WHA stakeholder listening session on May 5, let’s talk about what WHO has committed to doing, and how the agency has fallen short.

WHA side-events are an important platform for us all. Let’s try and use them to build the constituency around subjects that are getting less attention, even if we can’t get government and regional representatives to attend.

During WHA, let us try to connect with mid-level WHO staff at committee meetings and sidebar meetings. They could be useful resources. Let us also engage in essential corridor discussions during the drafting of resolutions.

Most importantly, let us not be blinded by talks of U.S. budget cuts, but rather continue to uphold our role as advocates and emphasize the issues that matter to us. Despite the obstacles we face, we can still get our points across and accomplish great results.

GHC will host its final WHA Policy Scrum and New Delegate Webinar on May 9. This scrum will focus on: final preparations for WHA; communications before and during the meeting, and what GHC and its member/partners plan to report out on. Moreover, the last half-hour of the scrum will be dedicated to focusing on logistics for new WHA delegates. Register today!