Geneva meetings and events:
Global health and related sectors

Vaccine Heroes
Sep 6 – Oct 6 all-day

“Vaccines save millions of lives every year; each day they prevent illness and death among children both rich and poor. This would not be possible without the dedicated people – vaccinators, parents, doctors, campaigners, scientists and others – who brave unthinkable challenges to protect children from disease.

These vaccine heroes build the foundations for healthy lives. They help ensure that children not only survive their early years but grow up healthy, avoid diseases in later life, and build a more prosperous future for themselves and their communities.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is proud to support these heroes as they help the world’s poorest countries build sustainable futures. By the end of 2018, together with partners, we will have helped immunise 700 million people, saving 10 million lives since we started in 2000.

Please come and join us as we explore these incredible stories of immunisation progress through the images of people working on the front lines, making vaccines work and building a better life for millions of people around the world.”

Source: GAVI on Facebook

Technical consultation: Nutrition‐related products and the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines: practical considerations and feasibility
Sep 20 – Sep 21 all-day

“The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the approval of the draft 13th General Programme of Work 2019-2023 (GPW13) by the Seventy-first World Health Assembly. The GPW13 is focused on three interconnected strategic priorities to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages: advancing universal health coverage, addressing health emergencies and promoting healthier populations. It is estimated that half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services. Universal health coverage means that all people receive the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship. These include public health services designed to promote better health, to prevent illness, and to provide treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care of optimal quality. Appropriate access to affordable and quality-assured medicines, vaccines and health products (including diagnostics and devices, blood and blood products, and nutrition-related products) is part of universal health coverage.

Access to nutrition-related products may be improved by including them in the WHO Model of Essential Medicines List (EML), a core element of universal health coverage. Alternatively, some of these products may be registered as food for special medical purposes.

Over the past years new nutrition-related products used in the public health and clinical interventions have been developed to prevent and treat undernutrition (i.e. ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs), therapeutic-formula diets (F75 & F100), iron-containing multiple micronutrient powders, vitamin and mineral supplements).

Undernutrition such as wasting, stunting and micronutrient deficiencies, increases risk of morbidity and to early deaths for mothers, infants and young children, and impaired physical and mental development in the young. Around 45% of deaths among children under 5 years of age are linked to this form of malnutrition. WHO guidelines recommend the use of RUTFs and F75 / F100 as part of the management of severe acute malnutrition, while other nutrition-related products (i.e. multiple micronutrient powders for point-of-use fortification of foods, iron plus folic acid supplements) are recommended for the prevention of nutritional anaemias.

A proposed strategy to improve the access of nutrition-related products to the target population in need is to make them part of the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines. The WHO Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products define essential medicines as those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population. Essential medicines are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems at all times in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality, and at a price the individual and the community can afford.

The WHO Model List of Essential Medicines serves as a guide for the development of national and institutional essential medicine lists and is updated and revised every two years by the WHO Expert Committee on Selection and Use of Medicines. In 2017, an application to include RUTFs in the EML was made by a nongovernmental organization. This application was reviewed and the Committee agreed on the need to improve the access of RUTFs at country level for the outpatient treatment of severe acute malnutrition. The Committee considered that including RUTFs in the EML might carry implications to comply with stringent requirements for medicines or pharmaceutical products in some countries and manufacturing sites, and recommended WHO to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the benefits and trade-offs associated with the potential listing of nutrition-related products in the EML.

The WHO Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, in collaboration with the Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products are convening the technical consultation: “Nutrition-related products and the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines: practical considerations and feasibility” to identify the criteria that define a nutrition-related product to be considered as candidate for inclusion in the EML and to determine the advantages, disadvantages and trade-offs that would result from the inclusion of RUTFs and other nutrition-related products in the EML.

The objectives of the technical consultation are:

  • To identify common criteria that characterize a nutrition-related product for potential listing in the Essential Medicines List (EML);
  • To evaluate advantages and disadvantages of listing ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) and other nutrition-related products in the EML, in particular considering manufacturing standards for foods and pharmaceuticals;
  • To identify which dimensions/elements (e.g. availability, access, cost, alternative formulations, quality and country preferences) and trade-offs are considered by stakeholders when assessing RUTFs and other nutrition-related products for improved access in public health; and
  • To discuss country experiences on the regulatory processes that could help to improve access to nutrition-related products.”

Source and further information: WHO Website

ITU WHO Workshop on “Artificial Intelligence for Health”
Sep 25 @ 12:00 – 13:00
“The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is organizing a workshop on “Artificial Intelligence for Health” that will be hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and take place on 25 September 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to support and improve medical diagnostics and treatment decision processes based on digital data. Example solutions may include decision support systems, the interpretation of laboratory results or imaging data, and the extraction of diagnostically relevant features from text or sensor time series. A standardized assessment of AI for health methods would assure the quality, thereby foster the adoption in practice, and have a strong impact on Global Health.

This workshop is the first in a series of workshops linked to the ITU Focus Group on Artificial Intelligence for Health (FG-AI4H). The aim of these workshops is to provide a platform for researchers, engineers, practitioners, entrepreneurs and policy makers to discuss standardization opportunities for the assessment of AI for health solutions and to identify use cases and data required for the evaluation and validation with open benchmarks. The workshop will be followed by the first meeting of the ITU-T Focus Group on Artificial Intelligence for Health (FG-AI4H) that will be held from 26-27 September 2018 in the same venue.

Target Audience

Participation in the workshop is open to ITU Member States, Sector Members, Associates and Academic Institutions and to any individual who wishes to contribute to the work and is from a country that is a member of ITU. This includes individuals who are also members of international, regional and national organizations. The workshop is free of charge.”

Source and further information: ITU website

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC): Eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8)
Oct 1 – Oct 6 all-day

“Taking place in Geneva from 1 to 6 October, the Eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) will focus on topics such as the shaping of a medium-term strategic framework, which will determine the actions to be taken by the Parties over the next five years, and the advances and challenges revealed in the Global Progress Report on Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The Conference will also be the starting point for a wider application of the WHO FCTC not only for tobacco control, but also as an international treaty to support sustainable development, fight climate change and defend human rights.

Indeed, various steps in the production and disposal of tobacco products harm the environment and contribute to global warming. In addition, people involved in tobacco growing can become ill from “green tobacco sickness” – a type of nicotine poisoning that occurs while handling tobacco plants.

The Conference of the Parties has already taken several decisions towards implementation of the WHO FCTC article 17&18 of the treaty. Furthermore, Parties have engaged in promoting sustainability what has prompted UN member states to include the WHO FCTC as a target in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

On June 27 the conditions for the entry into force of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (the Protocol) have been met, making this historical moment another step in the battle against the tobacco epidemic. A natural extension of the Convention, the Protocol presents a comprehensive set of tools to fight illicit trade, among them, the establishment of a tracking and tracing system, as well as measures to promote international cooperation, including sanctions and law enforcement. The First session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP1) to the Protocol is set to take place in Geneva from 8 to 10 October, immediately after COP8.

Finally, with COP8 followed by MOP1 nearing, related documents for Party delegates will be published, and a dedicated web page is now available with a software application soon becoming available.

October will be a very important month for global tobacco control; let’s also make it an unforgettable month.”

Source / further information/registration: WHO FCTC website
Follow on Twitter: #COP8FCTC

WHO Technical Briefing Seminar on Essential Medicines Policies and Programmes
Oct 1 – Oct 5 all-day

“The general English Technical Briefing Seminar includes presentations, briefings and discussions around the following topics:

  • National Medicines Policies and Good Governance
  • Access to Medicines and Country Support Strategies
  • Selection and Rational Use of Essential Medicines
  • Quality Assurance of Medicines and Medical Products
  • Pharmacovigilance
  • Access to Controlled Medicines
  • Medicine Pricing and Financing Strategies
  • Medicine Supply Systems and Procurement
  • Regulatory Systems and Support
  • The WHO Prequalification Programme

There will also be a special “hot topics” session focusing on areas of particular interest and relevance at the time of the seminar.


The technical briefing seminar will be of interest to Ministry of Health officials who deal with pharmaceutical issues, regional advisers and country office staff of WHO and other UN agencies, national and regional drug regulators, government and non-government officials, academics and pharmaceutical company representatives.

Expected Outcomes

By the end of the seminar participants will:

  • Have a general understanding of the most common problems in the pharmaceutical sector in developing and transitional countries; and will have shared experiences in addressing these challenges;
  • Have a general understanding of how WHO support developing and transitional countries in strengthening the pharmaceutical sector;
  • Be aware of ways to strengthen collaboration with WHO and other organizations supporting the pharmaceutical sector in developing and transitional countries;
  • Be aware of critical issues such as quality and pharmacovigilance, pricing issues, counterfeit medicines.

Seminar design, presenters & facilitators

Each session combines a presentation from a WHO or invited speaker with active discussion and on occasions group work.
For each sessions key documents are identified and these together with the PowerPoint slides used are provided to participants after the seminar.
One afternoon is available for individual appointments with WHO staff.


Attendance is limited to 30 places. Participation is free of charge. However, each participant is responsible for own travel and accommodation costs.
The closing date for the submission of applications is 15 August 2018. Please apply using the Electronic Application Form.
(Based on past experience we encourage participants from countries for which Schengen visas are required to apply early.)”

Source, more information: WHO website

Unrest (movie)
Oct 9 @ 18:30 – 21:00

“On behalf of the International Alliance for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Cinélux Geneva, we are pleased to invite you to the screening of a Sundance award-winning documentary UNREST followed by a discussion with doctors and patients on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: a devastating neuroimmune disease largely forgotten by the medical community, affecting around 20 million people worldwide and causing significant social and economic burden.”

Source: E-mail announcement by Alexandra Heumber, Head of International Advocacy, Coordinator of the International Alliance for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (IAFME)

mhGAP Forum 2018
Oct 11 – Oct 12 all-day

“Mental, neurological, and substance use disorders are common in all regions of the world, affecting every community and age group across all income countries. While 14% of the global burden of disease is attributed to these disorders, most of the people affected – 75% in many low-income countries – do not have access to the treatment they need.

The WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) aims at scaling up services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders for countries especially with low- and middle-income. The programme asserts that with proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication, tens of millions could be treated for depression, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, prevented from suicide and begin to lead normal lives– even where resources are scarce.

mhGAP Forum, 11 – 12 October 2018, WHO, Geneva

This year’s mhGAP Forum will take place on 11-12 October and will provide an opportunity for diverse stakeholders to discuss progress on WHO’s Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 in countries. The theme for mhGAP Forum 2018 is “Accelerating Country Action on Mental Health,” reflecting the vision of WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work.”


Source, further information: WHO Website

Week of People’s Mobilization for a #BindingTreaty
Oct 13 – Oct 20 all-day

“The Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity (Global Campaign) is a network of over 200 social movements, networks, organisations and affected communities resisting the land grabs, extractive mining, exploitative wages and environmental destruction of transnational corporations (TNCs) in different global regions, particularly Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Campaign is a peoples global structural response to unaccountable corporate power. It provides facilitation for dialogue, strategizing, exchanging information and experiences and acts as a space to make resistance visible and deepen solidarity and support for struggles against TNCs. At the same time the Campaign:


The Week of Peoples Mobilisation in Geneva (13 – 20 October 2018) coincides with the 4th Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group mandated to develop a UN Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations and other business enterprises with respect to Human Rights (OEIGWG). As in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 we are back in Geneva in order to continue pressuring governments to keep the process of building the Binding Treaty and moving forward.


  • At the UN Square: we will launch the Week of Peoples Mobilisation jointly with representatives of the Global Inter-Parliamentary network, affected communities, movements, trade unions and other networks and organisations.  We will also organise Workshops under the Tent of the Global Campaign.
  • Inside the UN: as in other years, there will be coordinated participation inside the OEIGWG Plenary, where we will be seeking in particular testimonies of affected communities, both in Side Events and in focussed advocacy with governments.
  • In the city of Geneva: in coordination with the local University Students Union (Conférence Universitaire des Associations d’Etudiant/Es – CUAE), with local organisations and movements, we’ll co-organise a Public Event at the University of Geneva and participate in other activities.”


Source: Global Campaign

Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights: Fourth session
Oct 15 – Oct 19 all-day

“The first and second sessions of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG) were dedicated to conducting constructive deliberations on the content, scope, nature and form of a future international instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.  During the third session, the Working Group discussed elements for a draft legally binding instrument prepared by the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the OEIGWG taking into consideration the discussions held during the first two sessions.

Based on these previous sessions, as well as a series of open informal consultations held in 2018, the Permanent Mission of Ecuador, on behalf of the Chairmanship of the OEIGWG, has prepared a draft legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The fourth session of the Working Group will use this draft as a basis for negotiations.

This fourth session of the OEIGWG will take place on 15-19 October 2018 in Room XX of the Palais des Nations in Geneva.  Interpretation will be provided in the six official United Nations languages.”


Source and further information: OHCHR website
Related civil society engagement and action: See Treaty Alliance and Dismantle Corporate Power with their week of civil society activism

First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health
Oct 30 – Nov 1 all-day

Improving air quality, combatting climate change – saving lives

“The Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, 30 October – 1 November 2018 is the first-ever global event to focus on both Air Pollution and Health. Participants will include Ministers of Health and Environment and other national government representatives; representatives of intergovernmental agencies, health professionals, other sectors (e.g. transport, energy, etc.), as well as from research, academia and civil society. The conference will also advance collaborations between WHO and sister UN agencies.

The Conference responds to a World Health Assembly mandate to combat one of the world’s most significant causes of premature mortality, causing some 6.5 million deaths annually. Air pollution in most cities exceeds recommended WHO Air Quality levels. Household air pollution is a leading killer in poor rural and urban homes. Up to 1/3 of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution. Affordable strategies exist to reduce key pollution emissions from the transport, energy, agriculture, waste, and housing sectors. Health conscious strategies can reduce climate change and support Sustainable Development Goals for Health, Energy and Cities.

Conference aims and outcomes

The conference will feature a “Call for Urgent Action” with agreement on a target for reducing the 6.5 million deaths a year due to air pollution by 2030, as a contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Countries, urban mayors and civil society will be invited to make commitments to the global advocacy campaign to meet WHO Air Quality Guidelines and reduce climate emissions. The conference will underline the links between air pollution and the global epidemic of NCDs and position the health sector to catalyse actions for health-wise policies on clean household energy, transport and waste.

Conference sessions and activities

Conference sessions will cover themes such as: Science and Evidence, including the latest on health effects, forecasting and monitoring, and extreme events; Methods and Tools for Informed Decisions – estimating health impacts and planning interventions in sectors like transport, energy and waste, as developed by the Urban Health Initiative; Strategies and solutions being adopted by countries and cities to improve air quality at urban and household level; Cross-sector collaborations between health, environment and development sectors to reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change; Partnerships and Advocacy with countries and cities, UN partners, development agencies, research, university and civil society.


The Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, 30 October – 1 November 2018 will be organized at WHO Headquarters in Geneva, in collaboration with UN Environment, World Meteorological Organization and the Secretariat of the UNFCCC. Invitations will be issued in the first quarter of 2018. Remote participation will be facilitated by webcasting and live-streaming of the sessions. For more information contact:

Conference logistics

Source, background, updates: WHO conference website

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 draft provisional agenda of EB 144 is now available on the WHO website.