Background: The WHA is the annual meeting of the ministers of health of all Member States of the United Nations (UN), the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHA is the largest meeting of the year for the WHO. The goal of the meeting is to review, plan and approve the agenda of the WHO. Each UN Member State has one vote, usually cast by their Minister of Health. The 2018 WHA was held May 21-25 in Geneva.
Significance to Neurosurgeons:
Many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in official relations with WHO attend the WHA to monitor reports and voting, and to make allied statements during the proceedings to support particular issues. For neurosurgeons, the WHA meeting has increased in importance and potential since the 2015 adoption of WHA Resolution 68.15, which strengthens the commitment of the WHO to the Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgery (GIEES). Neurosurgeon Walter Johnson works full-time in Geneva as Program Lead for GIEES (www.who.int/surgery/). Activities of this office include: promotion of national surgical policies, improving surgical education and training, building capacity of surgical delivery systems, establishing protocols and monitoring to improve quality and safety, research using surgical analysis tools, resource-stratified treatment logarithms, developing WHO Collaborative Centers for Surgery and Anesthesia worldwide, and advocacy for surgeons and surgical patients.
Activities of Neurosurgical Interest at WHA 2018:
This meeting did not include a report on progress toward implementation of WHA 68.15, which is required every 2 years until 2030. The report next year will serve to keep the spotlight on surgical care within the WHA agenda. Neurosurgeons are offering to participate in data collection for member states as these reports are prepared for 2019. A number of our members were assigned to an Advisory Committee for NSOAP writing. A 2019 course for advocacy and global volunteering was planned.
The strong and growing neurosurgical presence at the 71st WHA firmly positioned neurosurgeons to be key partners in scaling up of emergency and essential surgical care and anesthesia in the developing world. In addition, relationships have been established with other areas of neurosurgical concern within the WHO, including Emergency Services, Rehabilitation Services, Trauma Prevention and Brain and Spine Cancer Care. The voice of organized neurosurgery and neurosurgical organizations has joined effectively with our allies in Surgery, Obstetrics, Trauma Care and Anesthesia, for example, through participation in the G4 Alliance. Neurosurgeons involved in WFNS-WHO will continue to spread advocacy campaigns, design policies to improve surgical care delivery, and help set the global health agenda so that neurosurgical patients everywhere will have access to the best possible neurosurgical care.
WFNS-WHO Committee Membership:
The WFNS-WHO Liaison Committee is actively engaged in working with the WHO to advance access to quality care for neurosurgical patients. An Advocacy “Boot Camp” was provided to orient members to WHA prior to travel to Geneva. Membership in this committee is open to all interested neurosurgeons who are members of WFNS member societies. Every attempt is made for committee composition to reflect all aspects of diversity. The Committee has no budget and all expenses are borne by individual committee members. For further information or to join, please contact the WFNS Central Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Committee Chairman Gail Rosseau (email@example.com). At present, WFNS receives 10 passes for admission to the United Nations Headquarters (HQ) Building during the WHA. Most events of interest to neurosurgeons do not take place at HQ; therefore, a badge is not necessary for effective participation in WHA.
Thank you to the Neurosurgeons who participated in WHA 2018 and related meetings: