GENEVA – Staff from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Global Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and USAID made it here despite the current U.S. government office shutdown, and are participating in the 142nd World Health Organization Executive Board session, which kicked off today at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
While the U.S. is not on the WHO Executive Board for 2018, Garret Grigsby, director of the HHS Office of Global Affairs, delivered remarks highlighting the need to increase investments in worldwide public health emergency preparedness, saying committing to such investments now “is far less expensive than emergency response later.” He noted WHO member states’ compliance to the International Health Regulations – which legally binds countries to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases – is critical to reducing the impact of global outbreaks.
While other high- and middle-income country representatives delivered remarks in support of WHO’s activities and plans for strengthening universal health coverage, Grigsby did not offer support or opposition, but commented that the U.S. government wants to see the WHO and member states work to reduce healthcare costs to increase access to healthcare globally. He argued that universal health coverage is not possible without the participation of the private sector.
“The World Health Organization’s technical expertise and evidence-based public health voice must remain neutral,” Grigsby said, adding that the U.S. government believes the WHO should stick to core functions and not engage in advocacy work, and avoid “certain ideologies or agendas.” The WHO, he said, “must improve the process of obtaining outside technical expertise, improve transparency . . . and work with the private sector.”
Global Health staff from IDSA, which produces this blog, is here and will offer these statements on infectious disease agenda items as a non-state actor.
Stay tuned . . .