With so much to follow last week, including the re-election of WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros for a second five-year term and the election of new members to the WHO Executive Board, GHC has outlined our top three takeaways from the 75th World Health Assembly:
1. WHO’s Work In Health Emergencies
- WGPR report adopted, the group will continue with a narrower mandate: The Health Assembly adopted the report of the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies (WGPR), established at WHA74, which included recommendations for improving pandemic preparedness and response across a wide range of areas such as political leadership, financing, strengthening the International Health Regulations (IHRs) that govern countries’ responses to health emergencies, and more. As decided in the WGPR report, the working group will continue and narrow its mandate to consider broader IHR reforms, as the Working Group on IHR amendments (WGIHR). GHC delivered its statement on this agenda item in support of the past and future work of the WGPR and encouraging continued non-State actor engagement in WHO strengthening discussions.
- Amendment to speed implementation of IHR reforms adopted: Following intense negotiations leading up to and during WHA75, the Health Assembly approved the resolution, led by the U.S., pertaining to Article 59 to shorten the time frame for future IHR amendments to take effect from 24 months to 12 months. As the WGIHR begins its work on considering amendments to strengthen the IHRs, this shortening of the time frame for amendments to take effect is notable. The U.S. initially proposed a broader set of reforms for the Health Assembly to consider though consensus could not be reached.
- Health Emergency Standing Committee on WHO Executive Board: At the 151st meeting of the WHO Executive Board, members of the Board agreed to establish a Standing Committee on Health Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response to speed its response to health emergencies. The committee was proposed by Austria and other Member States at the 150th Executive Board to allow for swift action in the face of health emergencies following recognition of slow action by the Board at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Sustainable Financing
The Sustainable Financing Working Group (SFWG) reached a consensus on its recommendations to provide more flexible and sustainable financing to WHO. GHC delivered its statement endorsing the recommendations of SFWG to increase the level of assessed contributions to 50% of the WHO base budget by the 2030-31 biennium, or sooner. The decision by the Health Assembly is a historic opportunity to secure and sustainably finance WHO, which currently operates with approximately 80% of its budget dependent on voluntary, mostly earmarked contributions.
3. Human Resources For Health
Notable actions on human resources for health and health workforce issues included the adoption of the Working for Health Action Plan (2022-2030) and the Global Health and Care Worker Compact. The Action Plan, which was developed through a Member State-led process, sets out policy priorities to rapidly progress workforce capacity across three dimensions: planning and finance, education and employment, and protection and performance. The Compact was created at the request of Member States at WHA74 and outlines priorities for protecting the health workforce, including how to protect and safeguard the rights of health and care workers and promoting and ensuring decent working conditions. GHC delivered a constituency statement on this item, joined by the Task Force for Global Health, Save the Children, Women Deliver, and World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists which includes recommendations to Member States on how to strengthen the global health workforce.
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