Global health leaders gathered at the World Health Assembly (WHA) side event titled "Health Emergency Workforce and the Need for a Global Health Emergency Corps" on May 21, 2023 to discuss the pressing need for a coordinated global response to health emergencies. The event took place from 7:30 to 9:30 PM and featured esteemed speakers and representatives from various organizations and countries.
The event was moderated by Nedret Emiroglu, Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, who guided the discussions with expertise and insight. MC Valerie Bemo, Deputy Director of Global Development-Emergency Response at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), provided a warm welcome to the attendees and introduced the event's speakers.
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), delivered the opening remarks, emphasizing the crucial role of a coordinated global response to health emergencies. He stressed the importance of preparedness, collaboration, and rapid response to effectively mitigate the impact of health crises.
One of the key speakers, Prof. Dr. Karl Lauterbach, Minister of Health of Germany, delivered insightful remarks on the urgent need for a global health emergency corps. Dr. Lauterbach emphasized the importance of enhancing regional and global solidarity mechanisms to support countries in building national capacities and accessing high-quality surge teams and experts during emergencies.
During the event, Dr. Mohannad Al Nsour, Executive Director of EMPHNET, represented the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN). He highlighted the GOARN strategy for 2022-2026, which supports the global health emergency workforce. GOARN, a WHO-hosted multidisciplinary technical network, has a 23-year history of outbreak preparedness and response. Dr. Al Nsour expressed GOARN's support for the WHO-led Global Health Emergency Corps (GHEC) initiative and emphasized the need for collaboration with member states and partners to shape its future.
The GHEC aims to fill critical gaps in global health emergency response by fostering regional and global solidarity. It seeks to provide countries with access to high-quality surge teams and experts, as well as a platform for national health emergency leaders to collaborate and coordinate responses to global health threats. The GHEC's mission aligns with the collective commitment to global health security and serving vulnerable populations.
The event concluded with reflections and a wrap-up by Chris Elias, President of Global Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization. Both speakers reiterated the importance of comprehensive country commitment to make the GHEC vision a reality.
As the world faces increasingly complex health challenges, the establishment of a well-coordinated and highly skilled global health emergency workforce is of paramount importance. The discussions and commitments made during the WHA side event signal a renewed determination to build robust response systems and protect the health and well-being of people worldwide.