WHO’s strategic priorities in focus at Seventy-second World Health Assembly


The Seventy-second World Health Assembly runs from 20 to 28 May 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the decision-making body of WHO, and this annual gathering is attended by delegations from WHO Member States around the world, including the countries of the European Region.

Over the course of the Assembly, delegates will focus on a specific health agenda prepared by WHO’s Executive Board. Their discussions and decisions will help to determine the policies and budget of WHO, and will serve as important guidance for taking collective action on health priorities in the coming years.

The 2019 agenda covers a number of key strategic priorities for WHO that follow up on the Organization’s 13th General Programme of Work. These include implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and specifically moving towards universal health coverage (UHC) and strengthening primary health care. These sessions will contribute to preparations for the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on UHC this autumn.

Other priority matters on the agenda include:

  • prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases;
  • health, the environment and climate change;
  • access to medicines and vaccines;
  • antimicrobial resistance;
  • ending tuberculosis;
  • human resources for health;
  • promoting the health of refugees and migrants;
  • preparedness for and response to public health emergencies, including pandemic influenza, and the International Health Regulations; and
  • poliomyelitis eradication efforts.

The agenda also covers WHO reform and the transformation agenda. This includes implementation of the United Nations development system reform, and WHO’s collaboration within the United Nations and with other intergovernmental organizations.

Technical briefings will take place throughout the week on a range of topics, such as the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All; emerging technologies; mental health; parliaments’ role in moving the UHC agenda forward; green, sustainable and climate-resilient health-care facilities; and the promotion of local production of medicines and other health technologies.

A number of side meetings have also been organized for the week, many of them by the delegations of European Member States.

How to follow the World Health Assembly

Those who are not attending the Assembly this year can follow along via WHO’s official social media channels and through the Twitter hashtag #WHA72. They can also tune into “Live from WHA”, WHO’s Facebook Live show on UHC. It will feature interviews with public health experts, donors and partners who connect policy decisions at the Assembly to action and impact in the lives of viewers. It will be streamed to more than 4 million followers on WHO’s Facebook and YouTube channels.