Geneva meetings and events:
Global health and related sectors

Symposium: Alternative Perspectives of the World Bank and its Influence on Global Health Development
Jan 21 – Jan 23 all-day

“The Global Health Governance Group will host a 3-day international workshop, sponsored by the Brocher Foundation, on ‘Alternative Perspectives of the World Bank and its Influence on Global Health Development’. The event will bring together experts in health policy, economics, anthropology, history, and public health to discuss the development of global health policies at the World Bank. The workshop will broadly consider how to better integrate Global South perspectives in approaching the history and influence of global health institutions. Stay tuned to our website in 2018 to learn more about workshop speakers and logistics.”

Source: Global Health Governance Group, University of Edinburgh 

October 2018: Call for applications from researchers from non-OECD countries and residing in Geneva to attend the symposium

23 January 2019: Civil society meeting ahead of the 144th Session of the WHO Executive Board – Register now!
Jan 23 all-day

The 144th Session of the WHO Executive Board is scheduled from Thursday 24 January to Friday 1 February 2019, with one day break in-between, on Sunday 27 January. The EB documentation can be found here.

The preparatory civil society meeting organized and hosted by G2H2 and its working groups and members will take place on Wednesday 23 January 2019, with a public session (“Selected items on the EB agenda”) in the morning and a closed civil society session on WHO governance in the afternoon as main elements.

The meeting will take place at the Ecumenical Centre (WCC Building).  To get there from the Cornavin railway station, take bus No. 5 (direction Airport) or bus No. 28 (direction Vernier). From the Airport, take bus No. 5 (direction Thônex). Leave the bus at Crêts de Morillon (stop on demand). The entrance is at Route des Morillons 1.

Programme and schedule:

8.30 hrs Coffee and croissants
9.00-12.00 Open session for civil society and EB participants: Selected items on the EB agenda
12.00 Lunch
13.00-16.45 Closed civil society session: WHO governance
17.00-18.30 Closed civil society session: Briefing on G2H2 positioning and planning process
18.30 Reception

Details of the provisional programme and references to EB documents and other resources can be found below. Programme updates will be published here and sent to registered participants ahead of the meeting.

Feel free to get back to the G2H2 secretariat for any enquiries or proposals related to the meeting. Please note that G2H2 does not have financial means to provide travel support to any participant. And we are currently still not equipped to allow remote (online) participation in our meeting nor to provide translation from English to other languages.

Registration for the civil society meeting is open until Monday 21 May. Please use the form at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

Morning session, 8.30-12.00 hrs
Selected items on the WHO EB agenda

Open session for G2H2 members, civil society colleagues and other EB participants
Enquiries: G2H2 Secretariat

The morning session of the civil society meeting will be an open one that will hopefully benefit from having some representatives of the WHO secretariat and member states with us to share, debate and “test” selected civil society analysis and proposals. Based on a call among G2H2 members to propose topics for the morning session, three selected items on the agenda of EB144 will be introduced by representatives of the People’s Health Movement’s WHO Watch team (10 Minutes), followed by an open discussion (30-45 MInutes). EB agenda items related to WHO governance will be at the centre of the afternoon session.

Coffee and Croissants

The main sessions will start on time, so do not be late!

9.00 -9.15

The January civil society meeting is dedicated to Amit Sengupta (1958-2018)

Universal Health Coverage (agenda item 5.5)

We propose to focus on the sub-item “Primary health care towards universal health coverage”.  Its title is rather misleading. After the disappointingly vague declaration of the Alma-Ata jubilee conference (Astana Declaration, October 2018), the WHO/UNICEF document on Primary Health Care (“A vision for PHC in the 21st Century”) to which the WHO Secretariat’s report (EB144/12) mainly refers, rightly frames PHC as a pre-requisite for achieving access to health and the health-related SDGs – not just as a means to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

To a large extend, the definition of PHC provided in the “Vision for PHC” documents (see page XIV), encapsulates a sound translation of the Alma-Ata Declaration into a 21st Century context. WHO should be encouraged to keep and further strengthen a rights based, intersectoral and political approach to PHC (and UHC) in the preparation of the UN High-Level Meeting on UHC in autumn 2019 (see EB 144/14).

Read here the draft PHM comment on EB144 agenda item 5.5.
Guest: Dr Naoko Yamamoto, WHO ADG for UHC and Health Systems Cluster

Health, environment and climate change (agenda item 5.6)

This agenda item includes two framing documents, a Draft Global Strategy for the WHO on health, environment and climate change (EB144/15), and a Draft Global Plan of Action on the same in Small Islands and Developing States (SIDS) (EB144/16). These aim to provide directions for governments to develop concrete policies at the national and international level.

The first document presents a comprehensive strategy for the health sector with regard to climate change, based on 6 axes of intervention namely primary prevention; cross-sectoral action; a strengthened health sector; building support; enhanced evidence and communication; and monitoring. It is an excellent strategy but could still be strengthened before consideration at WHA72.

The second document proposes practical measures to progress the ‘special initiative’ launched at the Bonn Conference of Parties (COP) in October 2015. It is a weaker document that requires greater clarity with regard to its structure and language.

Read here the draft PHM comment on EB144 agenda item 5.6.
Guest: Dr Maria Neira WHO Director Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health (invited)

Medicines, vaccines and health products (agenda item 5.7)

This agenda item covers a draft road map outlining WHO’s work on access to medicines, vaccines and health products in general (EB144/17) and the executive summary of a technical report on pricing, availability and affordability of cancer medicines (EB144/18).

The Draft Road Map is the result of a strong demand led by key developing countries to continue the discussion on the outcomes of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines. The draft road map elaborates activities, actions and deliverables for the period 2019−2023. The draft roadmap is sensibly structured and, despite some unfortunate omissions, brings together in a coherent way a wide range of programs and commitments which have previously been progressed separately. It is likely that the Secretariat will be asked to provide budget estimates, targets and indicators before submitting it to WHA 72 in May 2019.

The executive summary of the report on cancer medicines describes two broad set of approaches to price-setting: producer (industry) approaches and payer (government or insurance) approaches. It provides a framework to engage with long standing discussions with regard to the linkages between pricing, research and development, availability and affordability. Despite the many policy options listed, the report does not consider the broader governance capabilities at the national and international levels which would enable the implementation of these options, nor does it describe possible implementation models as they might operate at the national and international levels.

Read here the draft PHM comment on EB144 agenda item 5.7.
Guest: Dr Mariângela Batista Galvão Simão, WHO ADG 
Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals

Moderator of the morning session: Mariska Meurs, Wemos

Lunch for registered participants

Afternoon session, 13.00-16.45 hrs
WHO Governance

Closed civil society brainstorming and strategy meeting, by invitation only
Lead: G2H2 working group on “WHO governance and financing”
Enquiries: G2H2 Secretariat

Over the last years, civil society advocates have focused their advocacy related to WHO governance on issues such as:

  • Protecting WHO’s constitutional mandate
  • Critical assessment of actors, power, interests (incl. Member States)
  • Addressing the shrinking space for civil society (global, national)
  • WHO financing as part of financing global public goods
  • Defending WHO’s leading role in global health governance
  • WHO leadership and management: WHO’s capacity to fulfil its mandate

The engagement of many civil society organizations as “friends of the WHO” and the need for sharing assessments, for joint strategizing and for coordinated interventions regarding the WHO financing and governance crisis was one of the roots of the Geneva Global Health Hub in 2015-2016.

Beyond WHO, civil society engagement – and the work of the G2H2 working group on “WHO governance and financing”  –  will need to have a broader scope. A critical analysis of global governance is requested to understand, watch and provide civil society input into the current WHO processes.

Programme of the afternoon session

Welcome and overview

Under the leadership of the new WHO DG Tedros and his team, WHO governance has become even more complicated and confusing than before. There are new dynamics, processes and actors that deserve civil society attention – and probably action. The introduction – and the following debate – will try to provide an overview and shall allow to share initial assessments and experiences. Processes highlighted in the introduction are.

  • “WHO reform and transformation agenda” launched by the new leadership under DG Dr Tedros with an impressive amount off activism and new strategies, structures and teams reported to the EB, but still unclear perspectives and consequences for the management and governance of the organization. – See document EB144/31.
  • Interaction of the new WHO leadership with various “civil society” teams (such as a “WHO-CSO Task Team” that delivered its report and recommendations on 7 December 2018,  a “WHO Civil Society Working Group on the third High-level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on NCDs” or the “CSO advocacy advisory group” on the WHO “Investment case” launched in autumn 2018) and related governance issues.

Focal topics

After the initial discussion, a democratic debate will be structured along three focal topics that will be addressed by the WHO EB in its January session, with short inputs followed by a discussion among all participants:

  • WHO Engagement with non-State actors: Initial evaluation of the implementation of FENSA (2019, in preparation) and new plans for a “WHO Strategy on Engagement with non-State actors”.
    See documents EB144/36 and EB144/37
  • Reform of WHO Governing Bodies and perspectives of a further shrinking space for civil society. We hope to accommodate, within the afternoon session, an informal talk with one of the EB officers or a representative of the WHO secretariat on this item.
    See document EB144/34 and a recent blog by Thomas Schwarz
  • Preparation of a “Global Action Plan for healthy lives and well-being for all (a preliminary launch took place at the World Health Summit, autumn 2018) and related governance issues, including civil society representation
    See document EB144/11 Rev.1, page 9f.

Moderator of the afternoon session: Karolin Seitz, Global Policy Forum
Initial inputs by: Mareike Haase, Thomas Schwarz, KM Gopakumar, Mariska Meurs and Daniel Gulati

Briefing for G2H2 members, 17.00-18.30 hrs
After first two successful years: Which directions for G2H2?

Report by the Steering Committee of the Geneva Global Health Hub on the current process of G2H2 positioning and planning, followed by a discussion. By invitation only (G2H2 members and civil society colleagues)

18.30-19.30 hrs
Reception for registered participants

Registration form

144th Session of the WHO Executive Board
Jan 24 – Feb 1 all-day

“The WHO Executive Board is composed of 34 members technically qualified in the field of health. Members are elected for three-year terms. The main Board meeting, at which the agenda for the forthcoming Health Assembly is agreed upon and resolutions for forwarding to the Health Assembly are adopted, is held in January, with a second shorter meeting in May, immediately after the Health Assembly, for more administrative matters. The main functions of the Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work.” (quoted from WHO website)


The Lost Decade in the Global War on Drugs
Jan 28 @ 17:30 – 19:00
“In 2009, UN member states set 2019 as the target date for eradicating the illegal drug market. Next March, the international community will take stock of progress and delineate the global drug strategy for the next decade. In the absence of a formal review for the last 10 years of drug control, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) has produced a civil society shadow report, which assesses the progress made, or lack thereof, against the objectives of 2009. The analysis shows that the scale of drug cultivation, production, trafficking and use has increased exponentially over the past decade, and the negative impacts on human rights have been severe.
This conference aims to encourage an exchange of ideas on policy and practice regarding drug control policies at the multilateral level and discuss how punitive drug policies impact the International Geneva mandates.
Panel discussion
  • Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy
  • Ann Fordham, Executive Director, International Drug Policy Consortium
  • Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Professor, International History, the Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • Anya Sarang, President, Andrey Rylkov Foundation
  • Mariângela Simão, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organisation
  • Valentin Zellweger, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations Office at Geneva

Moderator: Stéphane Bussard, Reporter, Le Temps

Closing Remarks: Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland and Chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

This conference is organised in partnership with the Global Commission on Drug Policy and with the support of Le Temps and the International Drug Policy Consortium.”
Source and registration: Graduate Institute
FAO / WHO / WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
Apr 23 – Apr 24 all-day

“With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, unsafe food is a threat to human health and economies, disproportionally affecting vulnerable and marginalized people, especially women and children, populations affected by conflict and migrants.

This joint conference will bring together Ministers of Health, Ministers of Agriculture, leading scientific experts, partner agencies as well as representatives of consumers, food producers and the private sector to:

  •  Identify key actions and strategies to address current and future challenges to food safety globally;
  • Strengthen commitment at the highest political level to scale up food safety in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ongoing changes in climate, global food production and supply systems affect consumers, industry and the planet itself. These changes can have an impact on food safety systems and pose sustainability and development challenges.

This is a pivotal moment demanding urgent international reflection on actions needed to bolster food safety, which will start in Addis Ababa and continue in Geneva. Priorities will be discussed so that food safety strategies and approaches can be aligned across sectors and borders, reinforcing efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and supporting the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.

The First FAO/WHO/AU International Conference on Food Safety is being held ahead of the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, organized by FAO, WHO and WTO in Geneva on 23-24 April 2019.”

Source: FAO

Seventy-second World Health Assembly
May 20 – May 28 all-day

“The World Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making body for the World Health Organization. It generally meets in Geneva in May each year, and is attended by delegations from all 194 Member States. Its main function is to determine the policies of the Organization. The Health Assembly appoints the Director-General, supervises the financial policies of the Organization, and reviews and approves the Proposed programme budget. It similarly considers reports of the Executive Board, which it instructs in regard to matters upon which further action, study, investigation or report may be required.”

Source: WHO website

The provisional agenda and preliminary daily timetable of the Seventy-second World Health Assembly was submitted to the WHO Executive Board for consideration at its 144th session in January 2019: see document EB144/41

WHO governing body documentation: here