Diary blog: WaterAid at the 72nd World Health Assembly 2019

16 May 2019
WaterAid delegates at the World Health Assembly 2019 WaterAid/World Health Assembly Delegate

WaterAid will be at the 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) from 20-28 May 2019, advocating the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to universal health coverage. We’ll be updating this blog daily with the latest news from Geneva. 

20 May: final preparations and expectations

In a final flurry of preparation, our WaterAid delegation have been gathering their bags, accreditation passes, and expectations for the 72nd World Health Assembly this week. The team has descended on Geneva from all over the globe: Bhutan, Mali, Canada, Sweden, Senegal, USA and UK.

While some get over their jet lag, we checked in with Dan Jones, Advocacy Coordinator from WaterAid UK and Megan Wilson-Jones, Senior Policy Analyst from WaterAid Canada, to get their lowdown on the week ahead.

Megan told us: “I’m thrilled to be back at WHA following the successful adoption of the WaterAid-backed cholera resolution last year and will be paying particular attention to whether this has really helped drive its political prioritisation. Ultimately, cholera is still a huge issue – look at the recent outbreaks in Mozambique for example. 

"So I’ll be keeping an eye on how WASH has been integrated into long-term prevention plans in high risk countries, and catching up with colleagues from around the world to discuss how successful national cholera control plans have been implemented in a number of countries.”

On his hopes for the week, Dan said: “WHA is the largest gathering of Health Ministers each year. That means we’ve got all the key decision makers in one room at the same time. So my hope is that they finally pay attention to WASH and realise that they can’t achieve their other goals – on Universal Health Coverage, or Antimicrobial Resistance, for example – if they don’t invest in the fundamental building blocks of clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. 

"I’m hoping in particular that governments of countries with low access to WASH in healthcare facilities start acting on the responsibility they have to their citizens to improve the situation… and that the governments of wealthy countries are held accountable for their responsibility to help them. Health – the good, the bad and the ugly sides of it – won’t respect national borders, so this really is a situation where a global effort is crucial for everyone.” 

And on top of these individual hopes, the whole team is united behind one key goal: ensuring that member states back the proposed resolution on water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities. We’ll be keeping you up to date all week. In the meantime, follow our live updates on Twitter