Key sessions at the 77th World Health Assembly

Date:  21 June 2024

Key sessions at the 77th World Health Assembly

In May 2024, the world tuned in to the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) themed “All for Health, Health for All”. Global health leaders convened to discuss a variety of issues including universal health coverage (UHC), artificial intelligence, health emergencies and maternal health among other topics. One of the main highlights was the approval of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) strategy for 2025–2028, known as GPW 14. This strategy aims to address health-related issues, including climate change, and advancements in science and technology and to get the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) back on track. To support this work, the WHO is seeking to raise $11.1 billion over the next four years. Here are some other exciting things that happened that you should know about: 

Landmark resolution passed on health and climate change 

In a resounding call to action, the 77th World Health Assembly has recognized climate change as an imminent threat to global health, passing a resolution which underscores the urgent need for decisive measures to confront the profound health risks posed by climate change. Radical action is imperative to safeguard the health of the planet, underscoring the interdependence of environmental sustainability and public health. The actions agreed will empower countries to implement robust climate-resilient health initiatives tailored to their unique circumstances, and to guide cross-sectoral actions.  

In light of this, there was a “Climate change and health: a global vision for joint action” strategic roundtable aimed to shape the global health architecture for tackling climate change. Representatives from various entities highlighted the need for adequate funding and coordinated efforts to address the complex interplay of climate and health issues.  

Watch the recording: https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2024/05/28/default-calendar/strategic-roundtables-seventy-seventh-world-health-assembly 

Read the IHF and Geneva Sustainability Centre’s statement about this resolution: https://ihf-fih.org/news-insights/statement-on-the-wha77-resolution-on-climate-change-and-health/  

Countries commit to recover lost progress in maternal, newborn and child survival 

In the last years, maternal mortality rates have stagnated, partly due to the impact of the pandemic, which included budget constraints and healthcare disruptions. Recognizing the urgent need to reduce maternal and child mortality, the 77th World Health Assembly passed a resolution committing to specific actions to prevent deaths of women, babies and children. The resolution, led by Somalia, commits countries to tackle the leading causes of maternal and child deaths, particularly in the hardest-hit nations. They agreed to improve access to maternal, reproductive and comprehensive child health services through stronger primary healthcare and expand access to emergency services, including urgent obstetric care and units for small and sick newborns.  

Related agenda item: https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA77/A77_ACONF5-en.pdf  

Agreement reached on wide-ranging, decisive package of amendments to improve the International Health Regulations 

In a historic development, during the 77th World Health Assembly, member states agreed on a package of critical amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) and made concrete commitments to completing negotiations on a global pandemic agreement within a year, at the latest. These critical actions have been taken to ensure robust systems are in place in all countries to protect the health and safety of all people everywhere from the risk of future outbreaks and pandemics. 

These decisions represent two important steps by countries, taken in tandem with one another to build on lessons learned from several global health emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic. The package of amendments to the Regulations will strengthen global preparedness, surveillance and responses to public health emergencies, including pandemics. “The historic decisions taken today demonstrate a common desire by Member States to protect their own people, and the world’s, from the shared risk of public health emergencies and future pandemics,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. 

Watch the recording: https://www.who.int/about/accountability/governance/world-health-assembly/seventy-seventh (Committee A 28.05.2024 14:45-18:00) 

Advancing social participation for universal health coverage  

Social participation is at the heart of the inclusive governance needed for countries to make progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC); health emergency prevention, preparedness and response; and health for all, while ensuring no one is left behind. During the 77th World Health Assembly Member States agreed on a resolution on social participation in national health planning and implementation.  This paves the way for people, communities, and civil society to have a stronger voice in influencing the decisions that affect their health and well-being. 

The resolution aims to tackle health inequities and the erosion of trust in health systems, which is crucial in the face of the unprecedented challenges the world is facing such as climate change, conflicts, and pandemic threats.  Two-way dialogues between government and the people they serve can lead to health policies, strategies and services that are more responsive to people’s needs, particularly those in vulnerable and marginalized situations.    The new resolution recognizes this potential.  

Watch recording: https://www.who.int/about/accountability/governance/world-health-assembly/seventy-seventh (Committee A – 29.05.2024. 14:40-17:45) 

The discussions and resolutions from this assembly will guide global health strategies in the coming years, aiming to create a more equitable and resilient health landscape. Looking ahead, we invite you to join us at the World Hospital Congress 2024 in Rio de Janeiro, where healthcare leaders will converge to share insights, forge partnerships, and shape the future of sustainable healthcare.  

Written by:

Victoria Del Pozo

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