Press Release on Pre-WHA Lunchtime Seminar 

Geneva, Switzerland, 18th May 2019 –

The Alliance for Health Promotion in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the Global Health Centre of the Graduate Institute organised a Pre-WHA Lunchtime Seminar titled ‘Achieving Healthier Populations Through Alliances With Civil Society’. The seminar took place at The Graduate Institute from 12:30 to 14:30 on 18th May, 2019.

The event saw the participation of some of the most influential actors in the field of health in International Geneva and other parts of the world. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom graced the event with his presence and delivered the closing speech. The Assistant Director-General of the newly formed ‘Healthier Populations’ division, Dr Naoko Yamamoto delivered a technical presentation on the restructuring of the WHO and the renewed prioritisation of the health community on health promotion. Her technical presentation set the stage for further engagement with the event’s theme through a panel discussion which was moderated by Dr Mihály Kökény, a senior fellow of the Global Health Centre at The Graduate Institute.

The panelists for the discussion represented a wide range of global health actors from different regions and organisations; most importantly, the panel was not only gender-sensitive but also included a diversity in age. Loyce Pace from the Global Health Council highlighted the need for meaningful engagement with civil society. Elizabeth Cherian Paramesh brought in a range of examples from India, where NGOs have played a key role in health promotion, especially during the aftermath of natural disasters. The youngest panelist was Daniel Semmy from International Pharmaceutical Students Federation who was able to bring in the youth’s perspective on promoting health. The Secretary of Sri Lanka, Lakshmi Somatunga from the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine shared the cultural history of Sri Lanka where communities have played an integral role strengthening health systems. Dr Svetlana Akselrod, the WHO Director UNIATF and GCM Secretariat emphasized on the need for civil society’s engagement in order to achieve the global goals of universal health coverage, protection from health emergencies and healthy living.

The panel discussion was followed by a stimulating round of audience participation in the form of comments. Having witnessed the presentations, Dr Tedros delivered the closing speech by addressing some of the points raised during the discussions.

He reiterated the new priorities of the WHO and their efforts to change the discourse around global health. He recognised the need for partnerships with civil society organisations and the mutual benefits that can arise out of such alliances. He made it clear that there was real transformation taking place within the WHO, to make it play its rightful role in achieving the goal to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being. He confirmed that the 3 billion goal of WHO can only be achieved with civil society’s participation.

In the end, Mr Bernard Kadasia, President of the Alliance expressed his gratitude to the participants for making the Pre-WHA lunchtime seminar a catalyst in opening the doors to wider discussions on the role of civil society in bridging the gap between global declarations and local realities. He also thanked Dr Tedros for making time out to attend the event despite his hectic schedule before the commencement of the 72nd World Health Assembly.

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The Alliance for Health Promotion is a Geneva-based civil society organisation that seeks to participate in and shape health promotion discourses by providing a platform for dialogue and collaborations between IGOs, NGOs, health practitioners, policy-makers, educational institutions and student associations from across the world.

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An Alliance committed to health promotion

The Alliance for Health Promotion (A4HP), established in 1997 at the 4th WHO Global Conference on Health Promotion in Jakarta, is an International NGO registered with the State of Geneva, Switzerland.

The Alliance is comprised of a network of NGOs from different sectors who share a dedication to health promotion. A4HP is an NGO in Official Relations with the WHO and holds Consultative Status with the United Nations ECOSOC. A4HP uses its global network to reach out to local communities with health knowledge and resources.

What is Health Promotion?

When thinking about health, medicine and doctors are the first thing that come to mind. In essence health is a much broader and inclusive subject with many different aspects to it and one of its key areas is Health Promotion.

We consider Health Promotion as the means to support individuals to take responsibility for their own health and to work for an environment in which they can be successful.

In 1986, the Ottawa charter for health promotion identified five action areas for Health Promotion.

  • Build Healthy Public Policies
  • Create Supportive Environments
  • Strengthen Community Action
  • Develop Personal skills
  • Reorient Health Services

30 years later, the Ottawa charter continues to provide a solid foundation upon which to build.

Health Promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over and to improve their health

Ottawa Charter 1986