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AdvocacyMay 18, 2017

What I’m looking forward to at the World Health Assembly

Next week, I will attend the World Health Assembly for the first time, to be held May 22nd to May 31s t in Geneva, Switzerland. Various health officials including Health Minsters from more than 140 countries will convene to address some of the world’s most pressing problems. I am fortunate in that this year is an especially important one – it is the 70th anniversary as well as the election of a new Director-General, the latter happening only every seven years. The next Director-General will lead WHO through a crucial period of transition and reform. The increased transparency of the process this year has generated increased interest in WHO – citizens around the world will be watching, and we encourage you to stay engaged and learn more about WHO and the role of the Director-General.

The vote for Director-General will take place on Tuesday, May 23rd. In addition to the vote, the week-long gathering will focus on a health agenda prepared by the Executive Board including panels, briefings, and events driving global health. While I will be especially interested in the events focused on vaccine-preventable diseases and how to reach every last child, there will also be sessions on emergency preparedness for global pandemics – such as Ebola, Zika, and Yellow Fever – along with measures to address the rise in non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) will also be a hot topic.

All 194 Member States will vote for Director-General through a secret voting process and the new Director-General will begin his or her term on July 1, 2017.  The three nominees are:

  • Tedros, as he is known, was Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs until November 2016 and, earlier, the Minister of Health. He has served as Chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Chair of the Programme Coordinating Board for UNAIDS; Chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership; and Co-Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health.
  • David Nabarro is Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change. He has been Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Food Security and Nutrition; Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Ebola; and UN System Senior Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza. Earlier, he headed WHO’s Health Emergencies group and was Executive Director in the Director-General’s Office.
  • Sania Nishtar is Founder and President of Heartfile, a non-profit think tank focused on improving health systems in Pakistan. She has been a Federal Minister in Pakistan with a portfolio that included health; Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel for the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health; and Co-Chair of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.

We will be providing coverage throughout so make sure to tune-in to our Shot@Life social channels and website for updates and announcements!

Martha 4

Martha Rebour

Martha Rebour joined the UN Foundation in June 2014. As Executive Director, she oversees campaign strategy and implementation, corporate partnerships, advocacy and communications activities of the campaign. Prior to joining the Foundation, Martha worked for 15 years in strategic branding, digital and social media marketing, messaging, creative development, partnership building, and consumer research for corporate and nonprofit clients. While at Discovery Channel, Martha crafted multi-million dollar marketing campaigns around events such as Shark Week and the award-winning series Planet Earth. In her spare time Martha enjoys cooking, reading contemporary fiction, and spending time traveling and being outside with her family.