G2H2 meeting with WHO DG Dr Tedros, 20 November 2017: The start of a conversation…

In July 2017, the G2H2 President (Andreas Wulf) and Executive Secretary (Thomas Schwarz) expressed, in a letter to the newly elected WHO DG Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, their congratulations on his appointment as Director-General of the World Health Organization. At the same time, they briefed Dr Tedros about the Geneva Global Health Hub and enquired for an opportunity to meet him in order to establish a personal contact:

“At such an informal introductory meeting, we could give you an overview of the current work and programs of G2H2 and how they relate to WHO (G2H2 working groups include: FENSA watch; philanthrocapitalism and global health governance; 40 years of Alma Ata 2018; nutrition, food sovereignty, global health, and corporate power). And we would like to use the meeting to explore the feasibility of jointly organizing a larger briefing with civil society representatives, e.g. related to the 142th Session of the WHO Executive Board in January 2018, when many of our colleagues will be in Geneva.”

The meeting with Dr Tedros took place on 20 November 2017 at the WHO Headquarters. Dr Tedros was accompanied by the Director of the WHO DG Office, Dr Isabelle Nuttall, and by the WHO Director for Partnerships and Non-State Actors, Dr Gaudenz Silberschmidt. The meeting focused on the following topics for which we also submitted to Dr Tedros a series of detailed memos:

  1. Geneva Global Health Hub: “We are building a strong civil society space in Geneva for more democratic global health”
    An introduction to G2H2: History, structure, activities with regular events and working groups. Annex: G2H2 concept note for an official WHA side event on the Alma-Ata Jubilee 2018, developed in cooperation with Dr Ruediger Krech, WHO Director Health Systems and Innovation.
    Memo 1: The Hub and its working groups
  2. WHO Governance and global health governance: An invitation
    “We herewith kindly invite Dr Tedros and senior WHO staff to join civil society advocates, for an hour, in a workshop on WHO Governance taking place on Friday, 19 January 2018, ahead of the 142nd Session of the WHO Executive Board, and hosted by G2H2. We invite the WHO DG in particular to discuss with us challenges of WHO governance and financing, with a focus on assessing the 13th WHO General Programme of Work from a governance lens and discussing the state of FENSA implementation.”
    > Memo 2 – Governance and invitation
  3. Civil society concerns: FENSA and its implementation
    “The G2H2 FENSA Watch working group has taken up civil society engagement in the WHO reform process over the last six years. Civil society advocates have been in particular worried about the power of the private commercial sector to influence policy-making and the normative work of WHO, and about how WHO deals with conflicts of interest. (Memo based on input received from the G2H2 FENSA Watch working group)
    Memo 3: FENSA
  4. Civil society concerns: WHO Governing Body meetings; transparency and inclusiveness of WHO processes
    “There are practical issues regarding transparency, inclusiveness and ‘user friendliness’ of WHO processes and meetings where G2H2 has the mandate to directly speak for our members. This is not at the top-level of our concerns regarding WHO governance, but nevertheless important.”
    Memo 4: Transparency and inclusiveness

The WHO DG listened very attentively to our reports and engaged in a lively conversation. At the end of the 45 Minutes meeting, Dr Tedros confirmed that all points raised by the G2H2 delegation and submitted in our memos will be taken up and that we will get substantive feedback in a follow-up meeting in early 2018.

Unfortunately, the “WHO letter on participation of non-State actors at WHO governing body meetings and on other forms of engagement” received in May 2018 remains vague and includes little substantial replies to our requests.

Andreas Wulf
Thomas Schwarz

Enquiries: G2H2 Secretariat

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