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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