154th WHO Executive Board Constituency Statement For Agenda Item 14: WHO’s work in health emergencies
Global Health Council presented the following statement on behalf of the following organizations:
- Global Health Council
- The International Federation on Ageing
- The International Federation of Medical Students’ Association
- Task Force for Global Health
- Women in Global Health
- United Nations Foundation
Global Health Council, the International Federation on Ageing, the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association, Task Force for Global Health, WaterAid, Women in Global Health, and the United Nations Foundation thank the WHO Executive Board and Member States for the opportunity to make a statement on WHO’s work in health emergencies.
A multi-pronged, multi-sectoral approach is needed to prevent, prepare for, and respond to health emergencies, with WHO playing a unique and integral role. As the WHO secretariat and Member States continue to evaluate WHO’s work in health emergencies, we ask that you consider the following recommendations regarding global governance, financing, and systems.
Efforts to strengthen the global health security architecture must ensure complementarity with existing mechanisms and avoid creating parallel systems. This principle of complementarity is particularly relevant in discussions of the Universal Health and Preparedness Review mechanism. A detailed review should assess existing systems, and the creation of any new mechanism should clearly add value to the existing system.
Financing is critical to strengthen the global architecture for health emergency prevention, preparedness, response, and resilience. We urge WHO and Member States to consider how existing mechanisms, like the Pandemic Fund, can help finance important initiatives, like a pandemic agreement, to avoid further fragmentation.
We recognize that global health security depends on robust and resilient health systems. We urge WHO and Member States to strengthen and invest in essential public health functions, like primary health care, lab capacity, and a well-trained field epidemiology workforce. Investments in the formal and informal healthcare workforce–including community health workers, the majority of whom are women–must include regular compensation, safe and dignified working conditions, protection in conflict settings, and access to countermeasures like water, sanitation and hygiene, and appropriate personal protective equipment. Systems strengthening efforts must also include diagnostic testing capacity and testing infrastructure.
Finally, meaningful civil society engagement remains critical to building trust and legitimacy in WHO’s work in health emergencies, including in the development and implementation of intergovernmental processes, like the pandemic agreement. Civil society has a role to play by actively participating in negotiations and influencing the policymakers who will ultimately be responsible for adopting said policies in their respective countries.