This guest blog was written by Chelsea Ricker of OneWorldUK and a member of the Global Health Council delegation to the World Health Assembly. This is being co-published on the blog of OneWorld UK.
GENEVA — I’ve been a little frustrated with the lack of opportunities for interactions between civil society representatives and government delegations here at the World Health Assembly. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are confined to a too-small balcony 5 stories above the main hall for the plenary sessions. The NGO “lounge” is in a different building entirely, up some stairs and across a bridge. It took me 3 days of bartering and some powerful allies to get a chance to express my opinions to the committee working on the draft HIV strategy. Overall, there just aren’t a lot of opportunities for individual activists to connect with the people actually making the decisions.
So imagine my excitement when a friend drew my attention to the World Open Health Assembly, which uses blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to bring public opinion into the dialogue, not just for this World Health Assembly, but also for the upcoming High Level Meeting on HIV at the U.N. General Assembly in New York next month. From moderated online discussions on neglected issues to the use of social media to incorporate communities into the dialogue, I have to say that this is a pretty exciting idea to get a range of voices heard at the highest level. From the email I got:
“WOHA is a global community gathering by Twitter, Facebook, Skype chat or SMS text, and everyone will have their views incorporated into recommendations, ‘open-drafted’ during 18-22 May, that will be delivered to the WHO Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, on the 24th of May at the 64th World Health Assembly.”