The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the forum through which the World Health Organization (WHO) is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world's highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states, together with a wide range of civil society organisations and professional bodies. And around the official business of the assembly, many important side-meetings and events take place on key global health themes, taking advantage of the week-long gathering together of all these key players.
LSTM’s Professors Russell Stothard, Sally Theobald and colleagues attended the launch of the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Disease (ESPEN). Launched by the WHO Director General, Dr Margaret Chan, and the Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, ESPEN acknowledges the desire and opportunity for change within the NTD community.
ESPEN represents a paradigm shift from a vertical programme focusing on one disease (onchocerciasis through the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control) to an expanded focus that also targets other NTDs: lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, soil transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis. There are clear opportunities here for the COUNTDOWN programme of research which focuses on health systems and co-implementation approaches in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and Cameroon. Read more here in a blog by Russell Stothard and Sally Theobald The success of the launch was contributed to by LSTM NTDs who played a key part in supporting the organisation.
Professor Theobald also presented on the panel Health Systems Strengthening: Women’s Leadership, Peace and Security which included the Honourable Minister Dr Bernice Dhan, the Minister of Health in the Republic of Liberia. Professor Theobald presented work from Building Back Better on gender and health systems in post conflict contexts, which links to ReBUILD and RinGS. She also attended a networking dinner for Women Leaders in Global Health (a joint initiative of the Global Health Council and Women in Global Health) where invitees discussed experience of gender and leadership in global health.
Meanwhile ReBUILD’s Nick Hooton was busy attending numerous sessions in support of the programme’s research uptake activities. With the WHA agenda including a focus on ‘leaving no-one behind’ in progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage, and on the challenges of health in emergencies and migration, there were numerous official and side sessions highly relevant for ReBUILD’s work on health systems in post-conflict settings. He was able to build new strategic links with key stakeholders and to strengthen existing ones, while ensuring a focus on health systems in fragile and conflict-affected states was included in key sessions.