Key sessions at the 76th World Health Assembly

Date:  24 May 2023

The world together: Member state-led processes to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response

Strategic roundtable: 22 May 2023

See recording here.

Dr Tedros, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), emphasized the need to avoid repeating mistakes made during the pandemic and outlined five areas of focus, known as the 5 Cs:

  • collaborative surveillance
  • community protection
  • safe and scalable clinical care
  • access to counter-measures
  • emergency coordination.

Requests were made to deliver pandemic accords on time, make bold amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), and ensure high-level meetings on pandemic preparedness support member states and the WHO.

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body was created to facilitate negotiations on a pandemic treaty with binding and non-binding elements, and progress has been made in grouping amendments and aligning with the IHR.

Bhutan shared its experience in successfully managing the pandemic through solidarity, vaccination, and strong leadership.

The USA highlighted its commitment to strengthening global health through biosurveillance, preparedness, response, and recovery, with significant financial investment.

UNICEF stressed the importance of considering wider societal issues, particularly child rights, in pandemic responses.

France expressed full commitment to a more binding accord, equitable access to medical counter-measures, and financial support for the pandemic fund.

A proposal was made to implement a simulation exercise to test effectiveness and identify gaps in pandemic response.

Russia highlighted the challenges arising from contradictory positions among participating countries and the need for collective ambitions beyond 2024.

Women in Global Health emphasized the role of women in leading national responses and guiding reference frameworks.

Israel acknowledged failures in equity and efficiency and called for input on the drafts of the IHR and INB.

The WHO EMRO regional director emphasized the need for political support, coordination, trust, equity, and solidarity to strengthen preparedness and response efforts.

Overall, the meeting focused on the need for global cooperation, improved implementation of existing tools, and inclusive decision-making processes to better respond to future pandemics and protect public health worldwide.


Protecting and investing in the health and care workforce: An action-oriented agenda for the second half of the SDGs

Strategic roundtable: 23 May 2023

See recording here.

The meeting emphasized the importance of the health and care workforce in delivering healthcare and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There is a consensus on the need to grow and retain the workforce, invest in human capital, and create and design new roles in the healthcare sector.

It was highlighted that there is a shortage of healthcare workers, with an estimated 18 million shortage in 2018 and a projected shortage of 10 million by 2030.

The key themes discussed were the protection of healthcare workers from discrimination, violence, and unsafe working conditions, addressing inequalities in the workforce, and ensuring access to vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The meeting called for increased investment in healthcare workforce strengthening, universal health coverage, and pandemic preparedness.

Burnout among healthcare workers, as well as violence against health professionals, were identified as significant challenges.

Various countries shared their experiences and challenges in strengthening their health workforce, including addressing brain drain, improving access to healthcare in rural areas, and addressing the impacts of climate change.

The meeting emphasized the need to support and invest in women and girls in the healthcare workforce, address pay disparities, and create safe and supportive working conditions.

Financing institutions were urged to align their funding approaches to support health workforce development and long-term health outcomes.

The role of community health workers was highlighted as critical in delivering primary healthcare and reducing inequalities and poverty.

Strategies for increasing the numbers and skills of healthcare workers were discussed, along with the importance of decentralized management and south-south collaboration.

The meeting stressed the urgent need for action, accountability, and investment in the health workforce to address global health emergencies and achieve the SDGs.


The role of the health community in climate action: Taking stock and moving forward

Strategic roundtable: 24 May 2023

See recording here.

Opening remarks from Dr Tedros, Director-General of the WHO, highlighted the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable and the need for dedicated funding.

Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at the WHO, emphasized the importance of addressing health impacts of climate change, strengthening climate resilience of health systems, and gaining health benefits from a low-carbon society.

The concept of a solar-powered healthcare facility as a quadruple win (cost, speed of installation, reliability, climate adaptation, and mitigation) was discussed.

The importance of political ambition and countries’ need for sufficient climate budget to implement climate change measures in the health sector was emphasized.

Vanessa Kerry from Seed Global Health stressed the need for a health-centred approach to climate change, investing in green energy, and addressing existing pandemics.

John Kerry, US Presidential Special Envoy on Climate Change, spoke about the urgency of taking action to combat the climate crisis and the need to demand appropriate government responses.

Adnan Z. Amin, CEO of COP28, highlighted the need for transformative action at COP28, including rapid transition of energy systems and fundamental transition of health systems.

Dr Hussain Alrand from the UAE Ministry of Health emphasized the importance of breaking down silos and building climate resilience in collaboration with WHO and other stakeholders.

Dr Ahmed Naseem from the Maldives discussed the global impact of microplastic pollution and the need for collaborative efforts to address climate change.

Katharina Stasch, German Ambassador, emphasized the need to raise awareness, take action, and improve access to funding for climate change and health initiatives.

Dr Omnia El Omrani, COP youth envoy, called for young people to be included in decision-making processes and highlighted the importance of intergenerational equity in climate negotiations.

Michel Demaré from AstraZeneca discussed the healthcare sector’s contribution to the climate crisis and the need for collective action to reduce emissions.

Dr Mark Jacobs from WHO Pacific emphasized the vulnerability of the Pacific region to rising sea levels and the importance of storytelling in engaging audiences.

The World Bank highlighted the economic impacts of climate change on health and the need to prioritize climate, health, and resilience in discussions.

The Rockefeller Foundation emphasized the importance of collaboration and harnessing the digital revolution for accurate and timely information.

Norway discussed the link between nutrition and the environment and the need to address root problems and reduce pollution-related deaths.

Kuwait highlighted its vulnerability and joined the Alliance on Transformative Climate Action (ATACH), bringing the total of countries to 67.

Overall, the meeting underscored the urgent need for action to address the health impacts of climate change, strengthen climate resilience, and promote sustainable practices in the health sector. It emphasized the importance of political commitment, funding, collaboration, and engagement of diverse stakeholders in achieving these goals.

Climate leadership plays a pivotal role in addressing the urgent challenges posed by climate change and promoting a sustainable future for our planet. As we navigate this critical juncture, the Geneva Sustainability Centre’s mission it to support health leaders to become climate leaders by developing  the necessary skills and knowledge to lead in the face of contemporary challenges.

Join us in Lisbon at the World Hospital Congress 2023, where the world’s hospital leaders will converge to share insights, forge partnerships, and shape the future of sustainable healthcare. Together, our global network of healthcare climate leaders is dedicated to safeguarding our planet and securing better health outcomes, for everyone, everywhere.

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