Task Force at 76th World Health Assembly

The Task Force for Global Health focused on two key global health issues at the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) from May 21 – 30. Each of these draws on core Task Force program strengths and experiences:

  1. Pandemic preparedness, response and recovery, including the treaty being negotiated and International Health Regulation revision
  2. Universal Health Coverage

During WHA sessions with Member States and the WHO, Task Force staff  offered statements and calls-to-action on these topics.Two Task Force programs, the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) and the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination (CGHE) also  sponsored WHA76 side events with partners.

Read below for details on the statements and the events.

The Task Force has been a non-State actor in official relations with the WHO since 2018, participating in sessions about the COVID-19 response, the neglected tropical diseasesRoadmap 2030, Immunization Agenda 2030, global health sector strategies on HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs, and polio eradication.

Day 1  – Sunday, May 21

WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and several partners, including TEPHINET, organized a side event at the margins of the World Health Assembly to launch the Global Health Emergency Corps initiative. In their opening statements WHO Director General Dr. Tedros and the Minister of Health of Germany Dr Karl Lauterbach both mentioned the health workforce, with particular focus on field epidemiologists, as a key component of pandemic preparedness and response. George Shakarishvili, TEPHINET’s Director of Strategic and Technical Initiatives, emphasized the work that the Task Force and TEPHINET do for scaling up the health workforce in general and particularly field epidemiologists. He also mentioned the upcoming meeting to be held in Berlin, hosted by the WHO Berlin Hub, which will discuss the establishment of a new Global FIeld Epidemiology Partnership as a convening platform of stakeholders from across sectors to support workforce development in field epidemiology.

Photo courtesy of George Shakarishvili

Day 3 – Tuesday, May 23

TEPHINET represented the Task Force for GLobal Health as a Non-State Actor at the Committee A session for the agenda item 15.1 – Strengthening WHO Preparedness for and response to health emergencies: Strengthening the global architecture for health emergency preparedness, response and resilience – at which George Shakarishvili made the following statement on behalf of TFGH:

The Task Force for Global Health commends Member States and the WHO Secretariat for the significant achievements in strengthening the global architecture for health emergency preparedness, response and resilience.  For implementing the WHO’s framework for preparedness for and responding to health emergencies, we recommend the following three areas of focus:

  1.   Accelerate health workforce development to further increase national and global capacities for pandemic preparedness and response, other health emergencies and broader essential public health functions
  2.   Continue supporting over 80 Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs) and scaling-up investments for establishing additional FETPs to further enhance national and global capacities in detecting disease outbreaks     
  3.   Strengthen National Public Health Institutions to ensure multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach to addressing public health emergencies  

Thank you

Photo courtesy of Courtenay Dusenbury

Day 4  – Wednesday, May 24

CGHE convened a Devex partnership event, along with Gilead Sciences, Harvard Medical School Program in Global Primary Care and Social Change, and the World Hepatitis Alliance. This event brought  together global industry experts and public health leaders to discuss what’s needed to eliminate the barriers to universal hepatitis care and the role of multistakeholder partnerships in advancing better access. Presenters include Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar (Egypt’s minister of health), and Dr. Meg Doherty, who directs WHO’s Department of global HIV, hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections programs.

Photo courtesy of Monica Fambrough for CGHE

Watch recording of the event below.

Dr. John Ward, CGHE Director, also delivered a statement advocating for the role of hepatitis elimination in Universal Health Coverage. See statement below. 

The achievement of global goals for hepatitis B and hepatitis C elimination, twice endorsed by this body, will avert over seven million deaths by 2030. To reach these goals, model countries demonstrate how non liver specialists can deliver hepatitis vaccination, testing and curative treatment in resource constrained settings. However, for many, their health systems do not yet provide these services. Of African newborns, only 1 in 5 receive hepatitis B vaccine. Of the over 300 million persons with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, 80% remain to be diagnosed.

Hepatitis elimination and universal health coverage share a common goal: health equity. Achievement of UHC will assure the achievement of the WHO goals for hepatitis elimination in the process of build stronger healthcare systems broadly. As commitments to UHC are reconfirmed, the Task Force for Global Health calls on this Assembly and later the UN General Assembly to recognize hepatitis elimination as a key step on the path to the achievement of UHC.

Video of Dr. Ward’s statement here.

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