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New WHO body seeks CSOs role in global health initiatives

Press Release

Wed. 6 September 2023


GENEVA:  As many as 22 diverse civil society organization (CSOs) attended the inaugural meeting of the steering committee of the recently launched WHO Civil Society Commission, aiming to determine and achieve global health objectives in the light of needs of different communities and their unique perspectives.

The inaugural gathering of the commission's steering committee was convened in Geneva, uniting representatives from 22 CSOs. While the complete commission membership is yet to be announced, it’s creation marks a deeper and more structured partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and CSOs.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, chaired the meeting, stressing the commission's mission to foster collaboration with a diverse range of civil society groups, seeking their advice and ideas to guide its actions and learning process. "We know from our experience in so many areas, that listening to and responding to the voices of the communities we serve is essential to properly address the health challenges they face," said Dr Tedros.

The commission has a broad mandate that aims to improve dialogue and collaboration among CSOs, as well as their interaction with the WHO. It will make recommendations to support the WHO's engagement at the global, regional, and national levels, specifically concerning universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Steering Committee, in the meantime, will provide strategic guidance for the commission, shaping its key objectives and facilitating continuous communication with the Director-General and senior WHO leaders. During the meeting, Dr. Tedros encouraged the Steering Committee to prioritise tasks based on input from all commission members. He also sought guidance on developing a strategy for engaging civil society with the WHO and shaping the organisation's next three-year plan, the 14th General Programme of Work, which will guide WHO's efforts from 2025 to 2028.

More than 350 organisations have submitted applications to join the commission, and out of these, 120 have already been accepted. Additional notifications of acceptance are scheduled to be sent out in the upcoming weeks.

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