The @WHO #WHA69 with @USCGlobalHealth

Today was so exciting as we kicked off the 69th World Health Assembly (#WHA69) at the Palais de Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Don’t get me wrong, it was a long and exhausting day, but seeing the World Health Organization (@WHO) in action is totally worth the 17-hour work day.


Being in Geneva means being in the midst of public health’s most influential leaders and decision makers. The #WHA69 sessions are filled to the brim with Health Ministers, delegates, NGOs and other advocacy groups. Today, I was able to attend two side sessions: one on dementia and one on obesity.


With the first day under my belt, I feel more prepared for the remainder of the week. This week, I plan to attend several side events and technical briefings, particularly ones related to health in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the introduction session of the assembly, Switzerland remarked that transforming our world is possible thanks to the SDGs. Its objectives are the basis of universal partnership – providing the world a platform to collaborate for positive change. Geneva as a city is the ideal platform for countries to build the connections and start efforts for realizing the objectives of the SDGs.


Being at a high-level event where there are a wide variety of opinions being voiced and big announcements being made, means plenty of good content for social media sharing. Today I was able to connect with several delegates from various NGOs and governmental organizations simply by tweeting about #WHA69. It’s amazing to me how social media has become a platform for bringing people together who may not have met otherwise.


Already I have picked up on some key issues that keep coming up at the assembly: 1) the question of what the SDGs implicate for the WHO and 2) what decisions will be made regarding WHO reform. I look forward to learning more throughout the week.


Madison Webb is a Master’s of Public Health student at USC.

The USC Institute for Global Health organizes an annual trip to the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the course “Global Health Governance & Diplomacy in Practice in Geneva at the World Health Assembly.”  This year, a group of 12 students are  embedded as delegates to NCD Alliance members at the 69th World Health Assembly May 23-28. 


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