The 148th Session of the World Health Organization’s Executive Board

The following are The Task Force’s statements submitted to the World Health Organization (WHO) on various issues discussed at the 148th Session of the WHO’s Executive Board meeting. The Task Force attends WHO meetings as a WHO non-State actor. The 148th session began on January 18 – 26, virtually.

Statement on Health Emergencies

We are encouraged by the strong commitment of WHO and Member States to the COVID-19 response.

The Task Force for Global Health is a global nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, USA. Our 16 programs partner with WHO around the world, including building public health workforce capacity through the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET). TEPHINET is the global network of more than 75 Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs) serving 160 countries with over 14,000 alumni and 4,770 trainees, forming a global cadre of well-trained field epidemiologists that play a critical role in strengthening health systems and global health security.

The world now recognizes the importance of outbreaks and public health emergencies. There will be other pandemics and no single institution has all the capacity required to be adequately prepared to face future threats. We need to harness the resources and capacities of a wide range of partners and stakeholders and we need political leadership and whole-of-government/society commitment. It is also critical to develop the human resources and field epidemiology technical capacity required to protect the health of all people.

The Task Force convened a meeting of key leaders and partners across the globe working to develop effective global field epidemiology capacity, framing this global partnership as the FETP Enterprise. The group developed a Road Map comprising a set of seven recommendations and a broadly representative Strategic Leadership Group (SLG), co-chaired by the WHO and CDC, is being established to provide a driving force for progress and implement the recommendations.

We urge you to support the work of the SLG to ensure that every country in the world has the applied epidemiology capacities needed to protect and promote the health of its own population, and to collaborate with others to promote global health.

Statement on Immunization Agenda

The Task Force, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is committed to working in strong partnership with WHO and other global immunization partners to implement IA2030, including strengthening the capacity and performance of immunization programs at global, regional, and country levels.

CDC has developed a new Global Immunization Strategic Framework (2021-2030) that aligns with IA2030. The Strategic Framework is a cross-agency effort involving 6 Centers and 18 Divisions and Offices that provide disease-specific and programmatic expertise related to global immunization. The framework focuses CDC’s immunization program strengthening work over the next decade to help regions and countries achieve IA2030, Gavi 5.0, and Global Health Security Agenda goals and objectives. CDC’s work will advance high quality new and existing vaccines and services to achieve high and equitable coverage; build and continuously improve comprehensive surveillance systems to inform program management; prepare for, and respond to, vaccine preventable disease outbreaks and emergencies; foster sustainable immunization programs; and advance research and evaluation to innovate for increased immunization program impact.

In keeping with CDC’s vision of a world with healthy people protected from vaccine-preventable disease, disability and death, in 2021, The Task Force will establish a US-based coalition of immunization partners to support implementation of IA2030 and the CDC Global Immunization Strategic Framework, with particular emphasis on the vital role that strong immunization programs play in advancing global health security.

Statement on the Global Health Sector Strategies on, Respectively, HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections, for the Period 2016–2021

The Task Force’s Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination supports the renewal of the WHO global strategy for the elimination of hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

We commend WHO for alerting the world to the 1.3 million annual deaths for Hepatitis B virus and Hepatitis C virus infection and for original guidance to implement the effective vaccines, reliable tests and curative treatments that make possible hepatitis elimination and, ultimately, hepatitis eradication.

In response to the WHO call for action, Member States are progressing toward elimination, already achieving, through HepB vaccination, the SDG goal of reducing to <1% the HBV prevalence among children < 5 years. Although the availability of affordable curative treatments for HCV is relatively recent, countries are steadily integrating simple models of HCV care into existing health systems. A renewed WHO global strategy will build on these successes, set interim targets to monitor progress by 2025, and help Member States overcome challenges to hepatitis elimination: adoption of universal Hepatitis B birth dose vaccination particularly within the African Region, broad scale up of hepatitis testing to detect and cure the undiagnosed, and equitable access to prevention, care and treatment for persons who inject drugs, migrants and other marginalized populations.

The renewed WHO global strategy can also prioritize development of new technologies (e.g., HBV treatments, HCV vaccines) and new strategies including those coming from the expansion of diagnosis, surveillance and care capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world seeks to eliminate 7 million hepatitis–related deaths by 2030, the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination looks forward to assisting WHO develop and implement the renewed global strategy, aiding countries in strategic information analysis, and, through partnerships, build capacity for achievement of the hepatitis elimination goals.

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