The world’s health professions were represented in force at this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA76), which took place on 21-30 May 2023. They put their positions to WHO member states on a range of strategic topics, contributing to debates at the highest level of international health governance.
Directly addressing the delegates
The WHPA was joined by four further NGOs to present to member states a constituency statement on pandemic preparedness and response, in an important follow-up to its contributions to the ongoing negotiations at the INB (in March and last December), the body developing a new pandemic treaty. The statement highlighted newly published evidence collected by the WHPA on the profound and alarming impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the professions. It called on member states to strengthen mental health and psychosocial support for health professionals, and to invest in systemic strategies addressing chronic violence in health care settings – particularly violence faced by women health workers.
Representing the professions at DG-convened strategic roundtable
Thanks to the growing strategic relationship the WHPA is developing with the WHO, underpinned by the Memorandum of Understanding signed in November 2022, the Alliance was invited to participate in a WHA Strategic Roundtable hosted by the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Introduced to WHA in 2022, Strategic Roundtables are designed to bring together delegates, experts from WHO, partner agencies and civil society to discuss current priorities and next solutions on vital issues for global public health.
FDI President Ishane Ben Yayha was invited to speak at Strategic Roundtable No.2 "Protecting and investing in the health and care workforce: an action-oriented agenda for the second half of the SDGs". She provided the perspective of health professions around the world, via input from the WHPA associations representing them, joining a global panel of Ministers of Health, leaders of regional economic organizations, UN agencies and civil society.
Statements to the Assembly
As well as these joint activities under the WHPA umbrella, its member organizations advocated individually at the WHA for their positions and memberships in a variety of ways. Between them, they delivered 20 individual statements on the following topics:
- Universal health coverage (UHC)
- Social determinants of health
- Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and mental health (in preparation for the UN General Assembly’s third high-level meeting on NCDs in September 2023)
- Well-being and health promotion
- Substandard and falsified medical products
- Draft global strategy on infection prevention and control
- Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016–2030)
- Strengthening local production of medicines and other health technologies to improve access (resolution WHA74.6)
- Global action on patient safety (resolution WHA72.6 and decision WHA74(13))
- Global Health for Peace Initiative
FIP and ICN also supported constituency statements on UHC and NCDs.
Finally, World Physiotherapy and FIP participated in WHA side events, where advocates benefit from the global gathering of stakeholders at the WHA to raise strategic issues.
World Physiotherapy co-sponsored a side event on the occasion of the WHA’s first ever resolution on rehabilitation, which World Physio CEO Jonathon Kruger welcomed as “a great milestone”. The side event titled “Strengthening Rehabilitation in Health Systems–Responding to the new WHA Resolution” was held on 25 May 2023 and organized in collaboration with several member states and international NGOs. The main focus of discussions was how to implement the new resolution.
FIP leveraged its participation in the WHA to draw attention to the issue of self-care as a neglected component of UHC, and the role that pharmacists can play in raising health literacy. Mariet Eksteen, Global Lead for Advancing Integrated Services at FIP, was one of six speakers at the side event “Self-Care a Foundational Component of Health System Sustainability”, organized by the Global Self-Care Federation and held on 24 May 2023.