WHA Special Session

November 29 - December 1

Each year, senior health officials from Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) travel to Geneva to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA). It is at WHA that WHO's work is reviewed, new goals are set, and new tasks assigned. Some of the main functions of the WHA are to determine the policies of WHO, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed program budget.

At WHA, two main types of meetings are held, each with a different purpose:

  1. Committees meet to debate technical and health matters (Committee A), and financial and management issues (Committee B), and approve the texts of resolutions, which are then submitted to the plenary meeting.
  2. Plenary is the meeting of all delegates to the WHA. The WHA meets in plenary several times in order to listen to reports and adopt the resolutions transmitted by the committees. The Director-General and Member States also address the delegates at the plenary.

In addition, technical briefings are organized separately on specific public health topics to present new developments in the area, provide a forum for debate, and to allow for information sharing.

An agenda with the list of topics for discussion will be released prior to the Assembly. The agenda is not timed, and while the Chair generally proceeds through the list of topics in order, there may be changes to the agenda if so decided by the Chair. Each topic will be discussed for the amount of time it takes to get through it, which means that timing is very approximate during the proceedings.

Besides Member States, other stakeholders, such as non-state actors in official relations with WHO, are allowed to follow the WHA proceedings and participate in technical briefings and official side events.

WHO gathers and posts key WHA documentation, such as the provisional agenda, daily journals, and resolutions, on a comprehensive webpage. Please bookmark and reference this site frequently as the agenda will likely change and documents will be added.


Read more below on how to apply for the GHC delegation as well as additional ways to engage around WHA.

Our Delegation

Due to our status as a nongovernmental organization in official relations with WHO, GHC can offer its members access to WHA so they can participate in key discussions with global health policymakers and provide valuable input into proposed resolutions. GHC delegates represent our coalition at multiple meetings, briefings, plenaries, and side events throughout the week. By joining together at WHA, GHC members can engage more effectively as global health advocates.

Non-corporate GHC organizational members in good standing and Super Global Health Advocates (individual GHC supporters who contribute $500 or more) are eligible to apply for GHC's accredited  WHA delegation. Eligible organizations can send up to two representatives on the delegation and potentially obtain two additional spots for health workers or field staff working in low- or middle-income countries. Super Global Health Advocates can apply for one spot on the delegation.


GHC's Master Calendar of WHA Side Events allows individuals following WHA to organize their schedules in advance. If you have an event to add to the calendar, please share your event with us.


Non-State Actors (NSA) in official relations with WHO are allowed to submit statements to be read from the WHA floor and entered into the official record. GHC will accept draft statements from its members who are part of GHC’s official WHA delegation. 


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) hosted the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) virtually for the first time in history on May 18-19, 2020. This two-day virtual convening focused on an abbreviated agenda of items essential for governance business continuity and COVID-19. On November 9-14, 2020 WHA resumed its session as a follow-up to the abbreviated session that took place in May. At this session, Member States addressed a number of various agenda items. This section is a collection of our activities at the 73rd WHA (WHA73).

Civil Society Town Hall with WHO DG Dr. Tedros

On May 26, GHC co-organized a Civil Society Town Hall with WHO Director-General (DG) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and leaders from the global health community from across the world. This closed-door virtual event was co-organized with Action for Global Health, RESULTS, Civil Society Engagement Mechanism for UHC 2030, and WACI Health and brought together over 130 civil society leaders from across 33 countries to discuss the role of civil society in the COVID-19 response.

During the town hall, Dr. Tedros committed to more regular engagement and invited civil society leaders to the table to discuss solutions noting, "It is the empowerment of communities and civil society that will help in defeating COVID.”

Featured speakers: Loyce Pace, President & Executive Director, Global Health Council; Esther Njoroge, Advisory Group Member, CSEM for UHC2030; Dr. Tedros, DG, WHO; Katie Husselby, Coordinator, Action for Global Health; and Rosemary Mburu, Executive Director, WACI Health

WHA73 Statements

Abbreviated Session

At the abbreviated WHA session in May, Global Health Council, and our delegation of more than 35 members from 11 countries including 7 low- and middle-income countries, submitted a statement to WHO applauding its COVID-19 response.

Resumed Session

At the resumed WHA session in November, the Global Health Council delegation submitted the following statements on a variety of agenda items.