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What To Watch At This Year's World Health Assembly (Devex)

May 21, 2018

From the article:

GENEVA — With Ebola back in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this year’s World Health Assembly sees the threat of pandemic diseases and the fragility of global health security once again at the forefront of the global health leaders’ minds.
While the virus is endemic in DRC, this latest outbreak has raised particular concern after a patient was confirmed to have contracted the virus in one of the health zones in Mbandaka, a city of more than 1 million and a major port town next to the Congo river. Nine countries, including the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, are at high risk of transmission.
...The focus Ebola is receiving against the backdrop of the organization’s most important annual meetings provides the U.N. aid agency an opportunity to showcase leadership and demonstrate that the reforms it has taken since the last outbreak are proving to be effective.
Improved confidence in the agency could have ripple effects on other agenda items at the weeklong meetings in Geneva. Member states will be evaluating funding for WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies, which as of March 2018, had received “no new multi-year funding agreement,” and deciding the fate of the organization’s draft 13th General Programme of Work, which Tedros said is the “most important” action item at this year’s assembly.
Tedros aims for member states to endorse the GPW in this year’s assembly, allowing him to fast-track a process that traditionally takes at least two years.
But again, whether that confidence will translate to a fully funded GPW remains to be seen.
“We do remain encouraged by the emphasis on measurable goals, outcomes, and impact throughout the [GPW]. However, the aspirational plans versus the high-level financial estimate of $10.8 billion over five years of course I think will remain a key debate. This represents about $1.2 billion over the previous GPW, and consequently, while the strategy is promising, there will be discussion related to the feasibility of the proposal,” said Elisa Adelman, health officer from the Office of Health Systems and WHO liaison at the U.S. Agency for International Development, in a panel at the Center for Global Development last week ahead of WHA.

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