World Health Assembly highlights: CHAI perspective

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Photo credit: WHOPhoto credit: WHO

CHAI was in Geneva during the 77th World Health Assembly, which concluded last week. Here are our takeaways. From universal health coverage to mitigating the effects of climate on health to accessing assistive technology.

The recent World Health Assembly ended with a decisive package of amendments to the International Health Regulations. It also set a date to finalize negotiations on the proposed Pandemic Agreement to prepare for future outbreaks and pandemics. It’s been a rocky road to this point, but advocates are calling this a positive step toward a globally coordinated approach to keep everyone safe.

In tandem with pandemic preparedness, Africa CDC convened over 40 African Ministers of Health to discuss the next steps for developing a local vaccine manufacturing sector. We applaud these efforts. CHAI has supported Africa CDC’s vision over the last several years. This includes our work in 2023 collecting insights for developing sustainable manufacturing on the continent. Based on discussions last week, Africa CDC expects eight antigens to receive regulatory approvals to enter the market by 2030.

Addressing the global mental health crisis

Photographer: Marc BaderPhotographer: Marc Bader

Dr. Neil Buddy Shah participates in Devex panel

The world faces a mental health crisis. Experts say the financing gap in global mental health spending is at least US$200 billion. CHAI CEO Dr. Neil Buddy Shah joined global leaders in a convening organized by the McKinsey Health Institute, Clinton Global Initiative, Wellcome Trust, and Kokoro to discuss the issue. Dr. Shah joined urgent calls for much-needed investment in mental health. The crisis was also a topic at WHA, which passed a resolution to strengthen mental health and psychosocial support.

Dr. Shah also shared insights on forging deep and lasting relationships with governments at a panel hosted by Devex Check Up. Prof. Awa Marie Coll-Seck, former Senegal Minister of Health and VillageReach CEO Emily Bancroft were also panelists in the discussion.

The intersection of climate change and health

Panel discussion on “Scaling innovations at the intersection of climate and health” at the World Health Assembly

The intersection of climate and health continues to gain momentum on world stages. From the first health day at last year’s COP28 to the WHA passing a landmark resolution last week recognizing climate change as an imminent threat to global health. This is the first such resolution to come before member states in 16 years. It sets out a framework to build climate-reslient and sustainable health systems.

CHAI’s Chief Science Officer David Ripin and Director, Global Markets Aman Siwach were at Health Innovation Exchange (HIEx) Demo Day. The Demo Day showcased interventions by brilliant entrepreneurs at the intersection of climate and health. CHAI is excited to continue championing dynamic health technology innovators such as existing partners DeepTek, that move the needle in global health.

It was also an opportune time to revisit last year’s resolution on diagnostics as FIND launched a commitment tracker to support the implementation of the “Strengthening Diagnostics Capacity” resolution. Renuka Gadde, CHAI Diagnostics Senior Advisor, spoke at the event. She said CHAI has been involved in establishing and scaling access to diagnostics in low- and middle-income countries since the organization’s founding. Ms. Gadde highlighted CHAI’s work with the Gates Foundation, Africa CDC, the Global Fund, FIND, WHO, and others. Together, we have developed a common set of priorities for donors and country governments with a report to be published shortly.

Hearing from people with lived experience

Panel discussion on “Disability Inclusive Health in Practice” at the World Health AssemblyPanel discussion on “Disability Inclusive Health in Practice” at the World Health Assembly

Panel discussion on “Disability Inclusive Health in Practice” at the World Health Assembly

CHAI co-hosted a spotlight on Disability Inclusive Health in Practice, alongside McKinsey Health Institute, the Missing Billion Initiative, and ATscale. Individuals living with disabilities shared lived experiences and examples of interventions that have made health services more accessible. Together with implementing partners, they discussed the way forward for more inclusive health.

Similar thoughts were echoed in the honest, heartfelt stories from people with lived experience at the “People-Centered Care as the Key to Achieving Universal Health Coverage” exhibition. The exhibition brought home the humanity that drives the work of CHAI and our partners. CHAI’s exhibit featured a video and photos chronicling a Hepatitis C patient’s journey to recovery. The visuals underscored the pivotal role of community involvement in fostering impactful health outcomes and true universal health coverage.

Written by Saze Ibraheem, Communications Manager

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