Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All
The future of financing for WHO

Global Health Governance - MMI statement at World Health Assembly

photo: WHO
photo: WHO

Thank you, Chair, for giving me the opportunity to address the distinguished members of the World Health Assembly on behalf of Medicus Mundi International, a Network of nongovernmental organizations working in the field of health cooperation and advocacy. 

Upon reading the report on the WHO reforms for a healthy future, we appreciate the courage by the Director General and her staff to initiate this reform and tackle its current crisis, which is not only a financial one, but also a crisis of identity and legitimacy. We limit our contribution to the section of the Secretariat’s report dealing with Strengthening WHO’s role in global health governance. 

Health is a global public good that requires collective responsibility. Most problems in health systems cannot be resolved solely by the health sector, nor within a single country. Increasing policy coherence and improving global governance for health is therefore crucial.

Kindly allow us to briefly highlight the following issues:

In the secretariat’s report, we miss a clear statement or appeal for increased national level stewardship as governance for health starts at home. We wish to plea for national level democratic debates on public health issues. This is key in strengthening governance for health, and we urge governments to ensure that the people directly affected participate actively in decision-making processes. Health democracy is a pre-condition for countries to make an impact in the decision making processes within the World Health Organization and in other multilateral fora.

At global level, the WHO faces challenges in governance. We expect the World Health Organization to re-claim its mandate as the directing and coordinating authority for the realization of the right to health and universal health coverage. This role is embedded in the constitution of the WHO. However, this role has been diluted and usurped by the proliferation of new actors in the field of global health. We therefore urge member states not to allow the WHO to be consigned to becoming a 'technical' agency that is stripped of its political and legal role.

As Civil Society Organization with a public interest, our organization and our partners contribute to health care within the national systems. We appreciate Civil Society Organizations to be included in the political debate on health and its determinants as a formal partner at both national and global level, and we appreciate the spirit of inclusiveness in the related proposals by the Secretariat. We however wish to reiterate that we cannot accept any influence of the corporate private sector through financing and other means in WHO priorities and programmes.

We wish to remind the Secretariat and all Member States that it is crucial that the reform package be characterised by a process in which the space for contributions is based on the voice and needs of people, not the power of money. We underline that this reform requires clear definition of actors and their roles, goals and conflict of interests. All these issues need to be addressed and clarified prior to the convening of any structured public dialogue for global health.

Lastly, Medicus Mundi International network recommends the formal decision-making process at the World Health Assembly to remain the prior responsibility of member states, potentially informed by, but always independent from any world health forum advises.

These views and concerns were discussed and shared amongst a large number of public interest groups in Delhi two weeks ago. The outcome is a “Delhi statement”, with specific recommendations, that we will be happy to share. 

Thank you very much for your attention.

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Statement by the Medicus Mundi International Network
to the 64th session of the World Health Assembly
on agenda item 11: The future of financing for WHO

Statement delivered by Remco van de Pas, Wemos,
member of the MMI Global Health Governance team,
on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 (WHA Committee A)

Contact for enquiries: MMI secretariat
Download the statement: PDF

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Background information:
WHO reform: construction work ahead!
and
Global Health Governance, thematic guide

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