30 mai 2018

Celebrating 70 years of the World Health Organization

From 20-26 May the Graduate Institute’s Global Health Centre organised a week-long programme of events for delegates attending the World Health Assembly, the annual decision-making body of the World Health Organization. More than 1500 participants from government, international organisations, NGOs, the private sector, and the general public visited Maison de la paix to listen, learn and exchange about current hot topics.

Speaking at a delegate briefing session on 20 May, Professor Ilona Kickbusch said “we are not just celebrating 70 years of WHO as an organization, we are celebrating its constitution, one of the most radical documents the world has produced in that it affirms that it is the social responsibility of governments to protect and promote people’s health, and gives the organization treaty-making powers.”

The briefing is available to view here.

WHO’s next 5-year strategic plan and its vision to bring health – not disease - back into focus was the overarching theme of the week’s events. A new paradigm for NCDs explored how solutions have to be grounded in political realities. Government representatives from Finland, Quebec, South-Australia, Sudan, and Thailand took part in Health-in-All Policies as a strategic function of public health and UCH, while the private sector’s role was explored during Innovation, Equity and the New Health Economy. Transitioning in the context of UHC highlighted the importance of governance and leadership transitions, “which are even more essential at times when the political space for affected and marginalized populations is shrinking”, said Michaela Told, Deputy and Executive Director of the Global Health Centre.  

Also during the week, PLOS Medicine and the Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership launched their new online channel on global challenges to address AMR and the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown University launched Human Rights in Global Health: Rights-based governance for a globalized world (Oxford University Press, 2018) with Professor Gian-Luca Burci and Suerie Moon as contributors.