Giving Compass’ Take:
• The 71st World Health Assembly represented a shift in leadership and emphasis. though not fundemental mission.
• What does it mean for global organizations to focus on community efforts? How can funders most effectively work alongside the UN on global health issues?
• The Gates Foundations recommends ways for donors to make an impact on global health.
There was a new vibe in Geneva at the end of May– and it wasn’t just the musicians serenading the delegates as they entered the Assembly Hall in the Palais des Nations.
This was the first World Health Assembly under the leadership of Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the former Ethiopian health minister and foreign minister who was elected at last year’s Assembly and took office on July 1.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame opened the Assembly on May 21 with an address describing Rwanda’s efforts to achieve universal health coverage, a signature issue of Dr. Tedros. While some are critical of Kagame’s governing style, he’s made undeniable strides in improving public health. His community-based approach has led to the steepest reductions in child and maternal mortality ever recorded across the country. It should come as no surprise that Dr. Tedros, who has a Ph.D. in community health, wanted to highlight the fundamental importance of making a difference on the ground, at the community level.
In his speech at the opening of the Assembly, Dr. Tedros made that point clear:
Targets, plans, strategies, guidelines, and meetings, although important, are not ends in themselves; they are not the reason we exist. The reason we exist is people: to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.
He also referred to a letter that Chancellor Merkel of Germany, President Akufo-Addo of Ghana, and Prime Minister Solberg of Norway sent to him in April. They proposed that WHO develop with other global actors a “Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All” ahead of the World Health Summit in Berlin in October. Dr. Tedros told the audience that the request “sends a strong signal from the international community that they expect stronger cooperation among partners, and that they are looking to us to lead that process.” It appeared Tedros was eager to oblige.
Read the full article about the 71st World Health Assembly by Ambassador John E. Lange at United Nations Foundation.
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