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The 74th World Health Assembly (WHA) starts a week from today. It will be the second WHA to be held virtually, a sobering reminder of the real-world impact of the public health threats on the agenda.

Rarely before has the importance of strong public health systems been so universally demonstrated, or the gaps in those systems—of access, of coordination, of resourcing, of political will—been so forcefully exposed.

Advocacy remains essential to ensuring those gaps are closed, between countries and within them. Civil society advocates, sometimes at WHA but more often in their communities and their capitals, can raise awareness of strong public health policies, support government adoption and implementation, and help hold their governments accountable.

That’s why we’re convening a discussion next week, on May 25, to consider how advocates can adapt to a world transformed by COVID-19. We’ll be asking a group of international experts tough but timely questions: As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the world’s health and economic systems, how can advocates ensure that we maintain the public health gains that are now threatened, even while we address new and emerging issues? And how do we learn from the past year by putting health equity at the center of everything we do?

The hour-long conversation will engage our team members in India, Vietnam and Nigeria. We will also be joined by Dr. Areet Kaur, Director of the National Health Mission in Punjab, India, who oversees her state’s public health system, along with Paula Johns, General Director of ACT+ in Brazil and Russell Rensburg, Director of the Rural Health Advocacy Project in South Africa.

These experts are working on a variety of issues, including cardiovascular health, healthy food policies, road safety and preventing epidemics. As our Road Safety team shared last week, advocates have faced challenges all over the world—and have come up with creative ways of solving them.

Register for “Public Health Advocacy After the Pandemic”:


Moderator: Claire Wingfield, Director, Advocacy, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, USA

Remarks by Dr Areet Kaur, Director, National Health Mission, Punjab, India


  • Paula Johns, General Director, ACT+, Brazil
  • Nalin Sinha, India Coordinator, Global Health Advocacy Incubator
  • Russell Rensburg, Director, Rural Health Advocacy Project, South Africa
  • Vandana Shah, Regional Director, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, USA
  • Doan Thi Thu Huyen, Country Director, Vietnam, Global Health Advocacy Incubator
  • Dr. Emmanuel Alhassan, Nigeria Coordinator, Global Health Advocacy Incubator

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