Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA70)

It was a whirlwind Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA70) 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 or peruse through GHC’s WHA70 Storify.


World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends. In the 21st century, health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defense against transnational threats.

WHO and the WHA

WHO was established over 65 years ago to promote health and ease the burden of disease worldwide. WHO takes direction for its goals and priorities from the 194 Member States it is designed to serve. Each year, senior health officials from Member States convene in Geneva to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA). The main functions of the WHA are to determine the policies of WHO, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed program budget, set new goals, and assign new tasks.

In preparation for WHA, WHO gathers and posts documentation, such as the provisional agenda, daily journals, information, and resolutions on a comprehensive WHA70 webpage.  Please reference this webpage frequently as the agenda will likely change, and documents will be added. The first version of the provisional agenda was published on March 9, 2017. 



WHA allows GHC members to participate in discussions with international global health policymakers and provide valuable input into proposed resolutions. WHA is a unique opportunity for GHC to network with its international partners and help prioritize GHC’s own agenda. By joining together at WHA, GHC’s members can engage more effectively as a team and represent GHC at multiple meetings, briefings, plenaries, and side events. Moreover, due to its official status with WHO GHC can submit statements to be recorded into the official record at WHA.

There are two ways that GHC members can support GHC and get involved at WHA. The first is being a GHC Delegate and receiving accreditation through GHC. The second is being a GHC Advocate. For the latter option, GHC recognizes that some of its members are accredited through other delegations. If this is the case, you cannot register to be part of GHC’s delegation. However, you can still register for GHC notifications and partake in other GHC activities throughout the week.

You must be a current GHC member to register to become either a GHC Delegate or GHC Advocate. Please note that registration for GHC’s accredited delegation to WHA70 will open March 16 and end April 28, or until all spots are filled. Click on the links below more additional information and registration details.


As an organization in official relations with WHO, GHC can submit statements to the WHA proceedings. GHC members who register for GHC’s accredited delegation will be able to submit proposed statements to GHC for review and possible inclusion in GHC’s submission. See the guidelines for proposal requirements and submission process, and view previous statements from last year’s delegation. All statements to be submitted through GHC’s delegation are due May 15. 


If your organization is hosting a side-event at WHA, let us know. GHC is hosting a Master Calendar of WHA Side Events on its website so those individuals attending the WHA can organize their schedule in advance and stay up-to-date.


WHA70 Policy Scrums

GHC hosted three policy scrums leading up to WHA70. For a quick recap, please view our recordings on main agenda items , U.S. Leadership and Engagement at WHA70, and logistics for delegates.

WHA70 Side-events

GHC also co-hosted a number of WHA side-events in partnership with several of our members around critical agenda items. Recordings of two key discussions are available below:

Priorities of the Next WHO Director-General

Against All Odds: Strengthening Health Systems to Better Serve Vulnerable Women and Children