Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly – Daily update: 23 May 2023

Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly – Daily update: 23 May 2023

Delegates discuss WHO’s work in emergencies

Country delegates considered a number of emergencies-related items today, as Items 14 and parts of item 15 were grouped together. They provided their views on the reports from the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme (IOAC), on implementation of the International Health Regulations, on WHO’s work in emergencies, as well as in strengthening preparedness for and response to emergencies. Countries also discussed the report on the health situation in Ukraine, and the report of the Global Health for Peace Initiative. 

Delegates commended WHO’s work in emergencies throughout the pandemic and beyond, agreeing with the findings of the IOAC that the work was excellent, but that the Emergencies programme was underfunded and overstretched. Some delegates highlighted the role that the Contingency Fund for Emergencies has played in allowing the organization to respond quickly. They encouraged global efforts for strengthening preparedness and response to health emergencies, learning the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reiterated the importance of an aligned global health architecture, placing WHO at the centre. Several spoke of the need to align various initiatives to avoid duplication and strengthen their impact. Some noted the need for continued work to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse. Delegates spoke in support of the Global Health for Peace initiative, and the strengthening of clinical trials, asking WHO for further guidance and support to build capacities in country in this area, to improve the quality of research and interventions. 

The draft resolutions and decisions will be considered on Wednesday, as currently scheduled.  

Related documents

Documents A76/7 Rev.1, A76/7 Rev.1 Add.2, A76/7 Rev.1 Add.3, A76/8, A76/9 Rev.1, A76/10, A76/11, A76/12

A76/7 Rev.1 Add.2
Global Health for Peace Initiative

A76/7 Rev.1 Add.3
Financial and administrative implications for the Secretariat of decisions proposed for adoption by the Health Assembly

Public health emergencies: preparedness and response
The Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme

A76/9 Rev.1
Implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005)

Strengthening WHO preparedness for and response to health emergencies
Strengthening the global architecture for health emergency preparedness, response and resilience

WHO’s work in health emergencies
Public health emergencies: preparedness and response

Implementation of resolution WHA75.11 (2022)


Strategic discussion on global health workforce priorities for universal health coverage

A Strategic Roundtable discussion was held on Protecting and investing in the health and care workforce: An action-oriented agenda for the second half of the SDGs, underscoring the role of political leadership and intersectoral governance on this priority health agenda. The deliberations and outcomes from the Fifth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, held recently under the theme of “Protect, Invest, Together”, provided a foundation for the roundtable discussion.

Opening the session, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reminded delegates that “Everything we are discussing this week – universal health coverage, global health security and the Sustainable Development Goals – all depend on health workers”.

The session was moderated by Sir David Behan, Non-Executive Director, NHS, United Kingdom, and featured key speakers including Mr Enzo Bondioni, Executive Director, FDI -World Dental Federation; Dr Alexandru Rafila, Minister of Health, Romania; Dr Lino Tom, Minister of Health, Papua New Guinea; H.E. Minata Samate Oessuma, Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, African Union; Ms Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director; Dr Juan Pablo Uribe, Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population, World Bank / formerly Minister of Health, Colombia; Professor Senait Fisseha, Vice President, Global Programs, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation; and Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.

The global health workforce shortage has been declining significantly from 18 million in 2013 to 15 million in 2020 and is projected to be around 10 million by 2030. However, the data largely depict a pre-COVID-19 trend, and masks profound regional disparities: progress is slower in the African and Eastern Mediterranean Regions and Small Island Developing States. It is clear that urgent action is needed now to close the gap.

The speakers highlighted key challenges faced by the global health workforce today, including maldistribution, inefficiencies, gender disparities, workforce ageing and poor working conditions, resulting from a lack of support, protection and respect of labour rights that further compound the challenges. 

The roundtable concluded with calls to action to protect and invest in the health and care workforce and strengthen national health system capacity if the world is to attain the goals for universal health coverage and global health security. Recommended measures include:

  • protect the existing health and care workforce, including all occupational health and safety measures, safe staffing and fair pay; 
  • protect fiscal space for social spending (education, health, social protection) and allocate the budget necessary to strengthen the health and care workforce;
  • invest in increased education and supply of health professionals to meet population health needs; 
  • invest in job creation in the health economy: with a focus on national capacity for the essential public health functions, including emergency preparedness and response and primary health care;
  • invest in reducing gender inequalities among the health and care workforce, including the gender pay gap; and
  • strengthen Member States’ implementation of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. 

 Concluding the Strategic Roundtable, Dr Tedros said: “We know the problem and the solutions. What we miss is action and accountability. With a sense of urgency, it can be done.”



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