Geneva, 24 August 2023 (TDI): The World Health Organization (WHO) has taken a significant step by establishing the WHO Civil Society Commission and organising the inaugural meeting of its Steering Committee today.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, chaired the inaugural Steering Committee meeting of the Civil Society Commission, comprising 22 diverse civil society organizations. This Steering Committee will play a crucial role in guiding the Commission’s efforts.

WHO Civil Society Commission aims to foster structured communication of civil society with WHO on global health priorities and related issues.

This development responds to the growing need for meaningful engagement with civil society.

The mandate of the Commission includes providing recommendations to support WHO’s engagement at various levels, including global, regional, and national, in achieving universal health coverage and Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Tedros emphasized the importance of hearing the voices of the communities served by WHO, highlighting their role in addressing health challenges. The Commission aims to unite CSOs from various backgrounds to advise and collaborate with WHO.

The Steering Committee will offer strategic direction for the Commission, oversee key deliverables, and convey advice and recommendations from civil society to WHO’s leadership. It will also consult with Commission members and establish priorities based on their feedback.

Moreover, the Steering Committee will guide the development of WHO’s civil society engagement strategy and organizational priorities, including the 14th General Programme of Work for 2025-2028, scheduled for approval by Member States in May 2024.

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The WHO Civil Society Commission’s mission is to enhance dialogue, promote collaboration, and provide recommendations to support WHO’s engagement with civil society at global, regional, and national levels, ultimately working towards achieving health for all and the WHO’s General Programme of Work goals.

With over 350 organizations applying to join the Commission, and 120 accepted so far, the application process remains open for those interested in participating.

Lisa Hilmi and Ravi Ram, the civil society co-chairs of the Steering Committee, view this initiative as a historic opportunity for closer collaboration between WHO and CSOs worldwide, welcoming all committed CSOs to join and contribute their expertise to improve global health.