77th World Health Assembly Wrap Up

June 10, 2024

The 77th World Health Assembly (WHA77) has officially come to a close. The assembly deliberated on a wide range of health topics, where GHC delivered and/or published a number of constituency and individual statements including:

Constituency Statements (delivered during proceedings)

  • Agenda Item 11.1: Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
  • Agenda Item 13.4: INB agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response
  • Agenda Item 15.4: Climate change, pollution and health
  • Agenda Item 17: Draft fourteenth general programme of work, 2025–2028

Individual Statements (published)

  • Agenda Item 11.2: Follow-Up to the political declaration of the third high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases
  • Agenda Item 11.8: Antimicrobial resistance: accelerating national and global responses

All statements can be found on the GHC website here. The statements can also be found on the WHO extranet website.

Launch of the WHO Investment Round

On Saturday, May 26, the day before the opening of WHA77, WHO launched the WHO Investment Round in an effort to establish more sustainable and flexible financing for the organization. The goal is to mobilize $11.1 billion USD for four years, $4 billion USD of which is planned to come through assessed contributions. The remaining $7 billion USD is estimated to come through the investment round.

Currently, WHO has sought four strategies for increasing WHO funding, including: mobilizing new voluntary contributions; establishing the WHO Foundation to receive money from other stakeholders, such as private sector entities; increasing WHO’s base budget, which will come from the first increase from Member State contributions by 50%; and launching the investment round.

Report on WHO Activities

The first day of WHA opened with a report on WHO activities from WHO Director-General Dr.Tedros Adhanomm Ghebreyesus, where he offered a few highlights based on each of the triple billion targets of the 13th General Program of Work including:

  • Successes from COP28. For the first time ever, an entire day was dedicated to health. During this time, the COP28 declaration on climate change was passed with Member States committing to more than $1 billion USD to address health impacts of climate change.
  • Results from the second High-Level Meeting on UHC, at which countries made over 50 commitments to expand access to health and increase financial protection.
  • Support to Gaza, among 18 other emergencies around the world. WHO deployed 18 teams to Gaza and committed to staying until the conflict ends to help rebuild.
  • Continued development of the World Health Data Hub, which is one of the largest sources of data on inequality and mortality.

Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) and the Pandemic Agreement

There were a number of challenges Member States faced during the assembly, notably the failure to reach an agreement on final pandemic agreement. Prior to the opening of WHA77, news outlets announced the negotiations had ended in a stalemate. During WHA77, a Joint Co-Chair Drafting Group was formed to finalize the IHR negotiations and set a way forward for the INB. Member States ultimately agreed to extend the negotiations by one year, to the next World Health Assembly, which includes a provision allowing for the INB Bureau members to rotate. For more information on the agreement reached on the IHRs and the way forward for the INB, please click here.

14th Global Program of Work (GW14)

There were several successes during WHA77 that advocates should celebrate. The first was the passing of the 14th Global Program of Work. For the first time in WHO’s history, the the organization hosted a series of civil society and youth consultations to provide inputs to the GPW14. This was done through virtual consultations and written comments. The final draft of the GPW14 was approved by Member States on the second day of the Assembly. While the GPW14 remains weak on gender language (a challenge faced in various other negotiations), many of the inputs given by civil society and youth are reflected in the final document. These consultations, in addition to the launch of the inaugural WHO Civil Society Commission, signals what we hope is a shift in engagement with stakeholders outside of Member States. The success of this program will largely depend on the funding WHO receives through the Investment Round.

Social Participation Resolution

Another success occurred on the third day of WHA77, during which the first ever resolution on social participation was passed. There is a long history behind the resolution, which began in May 2021 with the WHO’s launch of the Social Participation Handbook for UHC. This handbook provides guidance and country case studies governments can use to improve engagement with multiple stakeholders, including civil society and communities. The handbook was developed in partnership with UHC2030, UHC Partnership, Health Systems Governance Collaboration, and WHO. Civil society (from the CSEM/UHC2030) was included in the drafting of the handbook. After the launch of the handbook, it became evident there needed to be more country commitment for implementing social participation at the country level. This led the governments of Thailand and Slovenia to propose to draft this resolution on social participation, which included inputs from various stakeholders such as civil society. The passing of this resolution signifies a greater commitment from Member States to include civil society and communities, not just in health service delivery but in health planning as well.

Maternal Mortality Resolution

The passing of the Maternal Mortality (MM) resolution represents a third win from WHA77. The resolution was developed against the devastating backdrop of MM globally. Based on MM trends, more than 45 countries (80%) will not achieve their national MM target, 64 countries will miss the neonatal mortality target, and 59 countries will miss the under-five mortality target by 2030. In response, the MM resolution calls for urgent and course-correcting, country-led action among countries in need to move closer to the Sustainable Development Goals. The resolution calls for reorientation of health systems toward primary health care to support the process and universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services.GHC joined a constituency statement on this agenda item led by Save the Children and PMNCH.

Climate Change Resolution

In addition to the successes we saw during COP28, Member States also passed a resolution on climate change, which commits to strengthening WHO’s global strategy on health, environment and climate change. The resolution also commits to conducting periodic climate change and health vulnerability assessments, integrates climate data into existing data collection systems, promotes multi sectoral cooperation, and mobilizes resources to address climate change. Although weak on language around eliminating fossil fuels, the resolution demonstrates WHO is making climate one of their main priorities.

NSA Engagement and Upholding FENSA

At this year’s 154th Executive Board meeting, Member States failed to approve the WHO Secretariat’s recommendations for CSOs that applied for official relations with WHO as anon-State actor (NSA). This occurred despite the fact WHO both recommended and assured Member States that the CSOs met all the criteria as per Framework on Engagement with non-State Actors (FENSA). Member States refrained from accepting the recommendations, even though they recognized the CSOs had met all criteria as per FENSA. The decision on whether to uphold FENSA was discussed during this week’s WHO 156th Executive Board meeting, at which Member States finally accepted WHO’s decision after a secret ballot, resulting in 17 yes votes, 13 no votes, and four abstentions.

While we are delighted to hear Member States followed the recommendations of WHO, voting to accept organizations as NSAs after WHO has conducted its due diligence sets a bad precedent for the legitimacy of FENSA. This also sends Member States the message that they are able to pick and choose which organizations get NSA status. As we welcome our NSA colleagues, GHC will continue to advocate for a strong FENSA.

Lastly, GHC was extremely happy to host a Happy Hour for both GHC members and non-members. We want to thank everyone who joined us at the event where we networked, discussed future challenges, and celebrated our wins!