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AMWA at the 77th World Heath Assembly in Geneva

by Eliza Chin, MD, MPH

Last month, I was honored to represent the Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) and AMWA at the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA), held in Geneva, Switzerland. The theme of this year’s meeting was “All for Health, Health for All,” reflecting on the continued efforts to strengthen international health governance and cooperation to improve global outcomes. The MWIA Delegation included MWIA President Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi (Nigeria), MWIA Secretary General Dr. Mariam Jashi (Georgia), MWIA President-elect Dr. Amany Asfour (Egypt), MWIA Treasurer Dr. Eliza Chin (USA), MWIA VP Dr. Elizabeth Lichtenstein (Sweden), and MWIA VP Dr. Darunee Buddhari (Thailand).

Key issues highlighted during WHA77 included:

  1. Pandemic Preparedness and Response with an emphasis on improving surveillance, early warning systems, and ensuring equitable access to vaccines and treatments.
  2. Universal Health Coverage (UHC): The assembly reiterated its commitment to achieving UHC by 2030 and discussed strategies to expand access to essential health services and reduce financial barriers to healthcare.
  3. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, were a major focus along with global strategies to reduce risk factors like tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and harmful alcohol use.
  4. Mental Health must be addressed with strategies like the integration of mental health services in primary care and community-based approaches.
  5. Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is escalating and there is a need for a coordinated global response through strategies like rational antibiotic use, improved infection prevention and control, and the development of new antibiotics.
  6. Climate Change and Health is a growing threat, and member countries were encouraged to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable practices.
  7. Health Workforce Shortages and the need to train, retain, and support health workers, especially in underserved regions.
  8. Digital Health can be a powerful tool to improve health outcomes, healthcare delivery, and health data management.
  9. Emergency Preparedness and Response, including strengthening health systems’ resilience to health emergencies, including natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

The full agenda and recordings of the World Health Assembly can be found here.

MWIA leaders met with Dr. Avni Amin, Unit Head, Rights and equality across the life course within the WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research (SRHR) to discuss WHO priorities in preventing violence against women and other issues. We received an update about WHO’s work on clinical guidelines and programs addressing partner violence throughout the world, as well as female genital mutilation. There may be opportunities for MWIA and AMWA members to participate in sharing resources or providing peer review.

As treasurer of MWIA, I also attended the MWIA Executive Board meetings and helped organize two MWIA events (co-hosted by AMWA) during the sidelines of the WHA:

  • A Roundtable on The Role of Women’s Leadership in Advancing Gender Equity and Workplace Well-being
    • The roundtable brought in participants from across five continents for both in-person and virtual partipation to discuss the challenges in advancing gender equity and workplace well-being and the key role of women’s leadership in achieving those goals. Read the synopsis.
  • A special screening and discussion of the film Afghan Dreamers (Paramount Plus)
    • This is a film about the Afghan girls robotics team hosted by AMWA in 2018. Following the film screening, there was a discussion held by Dr. Douglas Chin (Creator, Producer) and Dr. Mahboba Islami (physician from Afghanistan). Earlier in the day, I also had the opportunity to meet with Nasir Ahmad Andisha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations in Geneva to hear about the specific challenges faced by Afghan people, especially women and girls and how the international community can stand with and support them.

MWIA also co-sponsored the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on the 2030 Global Agenda for Sepsis in parallel to the 77th Session of the WHA organized by the Global Sepsis Alliance.

In addition, I was able to attend the following side events relevant to AMWA’s work:

  • Program in Support of Universal Health Coverage organized by the International College of Surgeons. Dr. John Meara (Harvard Medical School) was the opening speaker for this session and spoke about his work as a leader in global surgery in collaboration with Dr. Paul Farmer and Dr. Jim Kim’s who recognized early on the importance of surgery in achieving the unmet needs in global health.
  • Empowering Tomorrow: Sexual and reproductive health and rights are central to health, well-being and sustainable futures organized by the WHO, Human Reproduction Programme, Partnerships for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH), U.S. Health and Human Services, and the Australian Government. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra was a speaker at this session, and I had a chance to speak with Dr. Pascale Allotey, Director of the Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) at the WHO.
  • How Do We Better Prepare Health Systems to Address the Rising Burden of Cardiometabolic Disease and Obesity? Organized by the World Heart Federation. By 2035, 50% of the world population will have obesity, and we are already seeing a reversal in the gains that we have made in survival rates. Speakers highlighted the importance of addressing obesity not just as a risk factor but as a disease and that we could no longer address this issue in silos. A cross-sector and holistic approach is key with attention to local needs and cultural norms. Behavioral change must be accompanied by policy change. Together, we can build a healthier environment and the better healthcare system to stem the growing epidemic of obesity.
  • Salt Reduction: The key ingredient for effective food policies organized by Noncommunicative Disease (NCD) Alliance and Resolve to Save Lives. Speakers in this session shared efforts in various countries to address the high salt content in food products and implement policies that would help decrease overall salt intake to improve cardiovascular risk, broader nutrition strategies, and overall health.
  • Why Invest in Rare Diseases? Ensuring Universal Health Coverage for People Living with a Rare Disease hosted by Rare Disease International in partnership with France and Malaysia. Speakers in this session shared information about global efforts to address rare disease and the power of collaborating on data collection and advocacy efforts. I had a chance to meet Alexandra Perry (CEO, Rare Disease International) and Durhane Wong-Reiger (President/CEO of Canadian Organization for Rare Disorder) as well as Dr. Ruediger Krech (World Health Organization).

Overall, the 77th WHA reinforced the need for global solidarity and cooperation to address health challenges and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I was honored to have the opportunity to represent MWIA, a non-state actor in official relations with the WHO, in my current role as treasurer as well as to speak on behalf of AMWA, a member association of MWIA. As a reminder, all full members of AMWA are members of MWIA and have opportunities to join committees, run for office, be delegates and attend regional and international congresses. Upcoming global opportunities include applications for MWIA Executive Leadership, AMWA’s National Coordinator for MWIA, an AMWA or MWIA representative to the United Nations Department of Global Communications, and an AMWA delegate to the MWIA 2025 International Congress in Egypt. In addition, AMWA members are welcome to attend the MWIA Regional Congresses in Central and Western Pacific and the Federation of Medical Women of Canada’s Centennial Meeting.

Attending the WHA provided a wonderful opportunity to meet healthcare leaders from around the world, learn about their work, and share information about our work at MWIA and AMWA. I came away from the WHA with a new vision around the power of global partnerships. Perhaps this quote by Dr. Paul Farmer shared by Dr. John Meara says it best – “With rare exceptions all of your most important achievements on this planet will come from working with others, or in a word, partnerships.”

Read more about AMWA at the World Health Assembly Events in Geneva from the report by AMWA’s Global Health Lead, Dr. Padmini Murthy.

MWIA Leaders at the Palais des Nations

Dr. Chin (L) and Dr. Murthy IR)

MWIA Leaders at the Broken Chair Monument in Geneva


Dr. Mears (L) and Dr. Chin (R)

Speakers on Cardiovascular Disease and Obesity Panel

Dr. Chin (L) and Dr. Murthy (R) at the World Health Organization Headquarters

More photos coming soon!



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