Our key takeaways from the 72nd World Health Assembly

Winne van Woerden

Last month in Geneva, from 22-28 May, the 72th World Health Assembly (WHA) took place, an annually returning event where World Health Organization (WHO) delegates convene to discuss health-related issues. Several global health advocates travelled to Switzerland to represent Wemos at the WHA and present some of our work to other delegates. Two of them – Lisa Seidelmann and Amanda Banda – look back on their visit and their key takeaways.

As a global health advocate at Wemos, Lisa Seidelmann works on our Finance for Health programme. Lisa: “One takeaway for me from the WHA was the process around the Global Access Project (GAP). We were already closely following this process at Wemos and encountered difficulties concerning the issues of engagement, and voiced our concerns in meetings. The input to the GAP ‘Accelerators’ and specifically on the topics of health financing and human resources for health that we shared unfortunately yielded no reaction from WHO and the broader group of signatories.


At the WHA, our engagement, however, turned out to be most welcome. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros had agreed in a written letter to the CSEM GAP Advisory Group to a time window for non-state actor (NSA) engagement, which is currently open until the end of June. This can already be seen as an outcome of our lobby work.”


Global health advocate Amanda Banda, who works from the East and Southern African region, focusses on both the Finance for Health and the Human Resources for Health programme. Moreover, she is a co-chair of the Health Workers for All (HW4All) Coalition, a partnership in which Wemos is actively involved.


Amanda: “For me, there were three key takeaways from the WHA. The first one is the recognition of Community Health Workers’ role and particularly the need to integrate them better in the health system, for example by defining clear roles and offering training, certification, recognitions and financing. The adoption of the resolution ‘Community health workers delivering primary health care: opportunities and challenges’ enables countries to do that.


Another takeaway is the fact that the WHA highlighted the question of how we should address the expected shortfall of 18 million health care workers by 2030. It was interesting to note the acknowledgement that low- and middle-income countries would be affected the most if the migration and recruitment of health workers from these countries to high-income countries is not managed well.


My last takeaway is the fact that it was raised that about 80 countries have reported on the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, which was adopted in 2010 and was reviewed this month, among others by Wemos and ACHEST, both part of the HW4All Coalition.


Just prior to the WHA, WHO announced that Nobel Prize laureate and former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was appointed as a goodwill ambassador for the health workforce. The HW4AllCoalition looks forward to engaging with her to fill the 18 million worker shortfall gap and address other urgent health workforce issues!”



Winne (master student Global Health) is currently an intern at Wemos. She also attended the 72nd World Health Assembly – read her blog on International Health Policies (IHP)

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