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

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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.