With senior health officials setting the annual direction for the World Health Organization this week, multiple health challenges and considerations vie for attention amidst a packed agenda. Find out how Gavi helps ensure that immunisation is recognised for its vital role in bringing essential health care to all.

WHA Palais

The World Health Assembly in session. Credit: WHO/Antoine Tardy.

Geneva, 20 May 2019 - The 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) convenes in Geneva this week bringing together governments, health workers, civil society, private sector, academia and other stakeholders. More than 100 meetings and events will take place at the United Nations ‘Palais’, WHO headquarters and nearby locations, including the Global Health Campus.

As the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHA is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the WHA are to determine the policies of the WHO, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.

How to participate

The full meeting programme is available on the WHO website. You can also follow WHA sessions virtually, with official meetings watchable via a webcast link here.

Putting immunisation on the agenda

The WHA is also a key opportunity to put immunisation at the forefront of the international agenda, with priority issues this year including:

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

Sustainable UHC can be achieved by prioritising universal primary health care and by expanding the reach of proven public health interventions, such as immunisation, first to those left furthest behind. This approach reflects the philosophy and ambition of the SDGs.

Read Gavi’s full statement on Universal Health Coverage here.  


Collaboration and strong country ownership are required to strengthen and sustain effective and resilient routine immunisation programmes, and to achieve and maintain a world free of polio.

Read Gavi’s full statement on polio here.  

Public health emergencies: preparedness and response

The investigational Ebola vaccine, made available through Gavi’s Advanced Purchase Commitment, has played a major role in saving lives in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, we are concerned at the increasing risk of geographical spread of the outbreak and the risks to health workers in service delivery.

Read Gavi’s full statement on public health emergencies here.  

Antimicrobial resistance

Universal coverage of vaccines will help significantly reduce the use and misuse of antibiotics, preventing the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Immunisation is one of the best buys in global health and its broader benefits are key to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read Gavi’s full statement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development here.  

Gavi-hosted side events

Immunisation as a platform for UHC

Date: Tuesday 21 May 2019

This Gavi-hosted event will focus on achievements, challenges and lessons learned from our 2016-2020 strategic period, followed by a discussion of what our next strategic period may look like. In addition to presentations, the programme will include a high-level panel with Ministers of Health from Gavi-supported countries.

Progress and challenges to end cholera

Date: Wednesday 22 May 2019

The 71st WHA adopted a resolution on cholera prevention and control that urged countries to implement the previously launched global roadmap to end cholera by 2030. As part of this year's WHA, the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) is hosting a side event at Gavi to provide leadership and oversight updates for cholera, and review progress and challenges for the implementation of national cholera control plans in support of the roadmap.

Other Noteworthy Events

  • Promoting Vaccine Confidence: Enhancing Global Immunisation Efforts to Protect the Health of All Generations

When: Tuesday 21 May 2019, 12.30-14:00

During this side event co-organised by the US, EU, Romania, Canada, Ukraine and Brazil, expert panelists will discuss the role of misinformation in the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), past and current efforts to promote vaccine confidence, and to highlight best practices and strategic approaches to communications going forward.

  • WHO Technical Briefing: Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All: a commitment to accelerating together

When: Monday 20 May 2019, 12:30-14:00

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