World Health Assembly

The Executive Board agreed recently through a written procedure that WHA73 will open on Monday, May 18, 2020 and take place virtually, using video conference technology. EB147 is due to open on Friday, May 22, 2020 and will also take place virtually. The assembly will focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and items that are essential for governance business continuity, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ Address, and electing the Executive Board’s officers. Additional technical items will be considered later in the year, including through resumed sessions of WHO governing bodies. The updated provisional agenda for WHA73 is available here. GHC organizational members and super advocates can submit their interest by COB today to access this year’s WHA through our online form shared last week. GHC will be submitting a formal consensus statement on behalf of our virtual delegation, in anticipation of a Member State resolution about the global COVID-19 response.

GHC’s Multilateral Roundtable recently met to discuss civil society engagement for the May 18th, 2020 WHA meeting. Several organizations expressed that their planned side events have been postponed to the fall. If your organization plans to host an open side event during the week of WHA73 and would like posted to our community events calendar, please send the event information to events@globalhealth.org.

Congressional Update

The Senate received a nomination from the White House for Brian Miller to serve as Special Inspector for Pandemic Recovery.

Congressmen Ami Bera (D-CA) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo recently, urging U.S. participation and leadership in international vaccine cooperation efforts, including the establishment of an international mechanism to ensure production and distribution of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a way that ensures truly international access and prioritizes international healthcare workers.

There is an effort underway to include H.R. 6334, the Securing America from Epidemics (SAFE) Act (authorizing U.S. participation in CEPI), in the next legislative package addressing COVID-19.

Senator Booker has drafted an amendment for the next COVID-19 supplemental requiring the Administration to use FY20 dues to pay assessed contributions to the WHO. Please contact advocacy@globalhealth.org for more information about the resolution.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Majority is currently drafting the Global Health Security and Diplomacy Act of 2020. The bill seeks to help the U.S. get ahead of the next pandemic by enhancing interagency and international coordination and providing for the establishment of a fund to close gaps in infectious disease prevention, preparedness, and response. There is not a clear timeline for when the bill will be introduced.

Chairman Engel launched an inquiry into the Trump Administration’s decision to withhold funding from the WHO. In a letter to Secretary Pompeo, Chairman Engel demanded that the State Department produce records and information dealing with the decision to halt funding.

GHC has continued conversations with congressional staff in both the House and Senate to relay global health priorities in future COVID-19-related legislation, the regular FY21 appropriations process, as well as supporting other legislative efforts for H.R. 6334 (CEPI), and H.R. 2166 (Global Health Security Act). As the House and Senate both continue to make adjustments to how they engage with advocates, constituents, and their colleagues due to COVID-19, the GHC network will continue to advocate for both immediate– and long-term priorities.

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