77th Session of the World Health Assembly

Categories: Featured and Policy.

ICPCN were delighted to be part of the palliative care delegation to the 77th Session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva from the 27th May – 1st June 2024. The WHA is the decision-making body of World Health Organization. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the WHA are to determine the policies of the WHO, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget. It is held each year in Geneva. Alongside the Member States, participants from civil society, known as Non-State Actors (NSAs) who are in official relations with the WHO are able to send a delegation of up to six participants, and there is a process by which NSAs can give interventions on the different agenda items, either as individuals or together as a constituency statement.

As ICPCN is still in the process of obtaining official relations with the WHO we were grateful that our Chief Executive and Board members were able to attend as part of the delegations from the Worldwide Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) and the International Association of Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) and were able to input into the interventions from these organisations, particularly in relation to maternal and child health. It was great to see Dr Megan Doherty giving the intervention at the WHA, and to see the other interventions given by the palliative care delegation throughout the assembly.

Alongside the main WHA, there were a wide range of side events, including one held on Sunday 26th May organised by PallCHASE (Palliative Care in Humanitarian Aid Situations and Emergencies) on Palliative Care in Humanitarian Crises, Conflict, Climate and Displacement. Later in the week, on Thursday 30th May there was another side event on “Ten Years  since the WHA Resolution on Palliative Care: Access is Increasing Slowly in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs), How Can We Expedite it?” In 2014 after several years of advocacy, and with support from the WHO Executive Board, a stand-alone resolution on Palliative Care was unanimously approved by Member States at the 69th World Health Assembly. The resolution (67.19) was called: “Strengthening of Palliative Care as a Component of Comprehensive Care Throughout the Life Course.”

2024 marks the 10th Anniversary of this historic resolution. We know that progress towards implementation of the resolution has been limited with disparity between high income countries and LMICs, particularly for access to essential medicines, palliative care integration into primary care and inclusion in Universal Health Coverage. The side event reviewed progress and aimed to reignite commitments, spark new strategies and galvanise efforts for the effective implementation of palliative care. The side event was organised by the WHPCA and supported by several Member States including: Australia, Belgium, Barbados, Chile and Panama as well as the UN Interagency Task Force on NCD’s (Non Communicable Diseases). It was also supported by a range of NSA’s including ICPCN, IAHPC, the UICC, the NCD Alliance, City Cancer Challenge, the African Palliative Care Association (APCA), the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network (APHN), and Team Humanity.

The side event was chaired by His Excellency Ambassador D’Hoop from Belgium and Deputy Secretary Mr Exell from Australia. Following the Chairs opening remarks we heard from Dr Bente Mikkelsen and Dr Rudi Eggers from the World Health Organization who discussed how we are doing since the 2014 resolution.

Dr Helena Davies presentation

This was followed by a panel which was started by a recorded presentation from Dr Helena Davies, from the WHPCA who is living with palliative care needs – she emphasised the importance of palliative care, involving stakeholders and ensuring equitable access globally. Dr Zipporah Ali, previous Executive Director of the Kenyan Hospice and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) then discussed the progress that has been made in Kenya since the resolution, with Kenya being an example of a LMIC that has made great strides in palliative care provision. Prof Julia Downing, from ICPCN reviewed the status of children’s palliative care, and Dr Vilma Tripodoro from the ATLANTES Global Observatory of Palliative Care discussed how we have progressed in terms of policy, specialisation and education.


Ambassador Ghislain D’Hoop

Ambassador D’Hoop then drew it all together with a particular focus on how we can improve access to essential medicines. By the end of the meeting participants had shown their commitment to the ongoing development of palliative care and there was discussion with regards to the way forward.

Whilst the impact of our advocacy work at the WHA can be hard to ascertain, there was a great palliative care presence, with many interventions, and opportunities to discuss palliative care. Delegates attended a range of side events, including those organised by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) and the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFA) along with those held by the International Council of Nurses (ICN). There were many opportunities, both formal and informal to discuss palliative care and we hope that the presence of the palliative care delegates from across the world will have a longer-term impact on the development of palliative care globally.


  1. Josefina Rossetti

    I am happy that Chile participated. (The side event was organised by the WHPCA and supported by several Member States including: Australia, Belgium, Barbados, Chile and Panama ,,,)

    At the Faculty of Medicine of Universidad de Concepción (Chile) we are preparing a research about the implementation of the law of universal palliative care (Law 21375, october 2021).We will submit it to FONIS 2025.
    I will be happy if this Newsletter gives us the possibility to informe about the project.

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