Posted by: davidjolson | 05/19/2011

Using social media to open up World Health Assembly

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.”

So, have an opinion on Global Health? Join the Facebook group, #WOHA, or join a discussion on the WOHA website and get it heard. Here’s my favorite tweet from yesterday @UNAIDS4ALLSpeakUp:

BIll Gates at WHA on community needs “Ask them what their priorities r.” w/ accountable community representation, you’d hear clearly! #WOHA


  1. Being a young participant in this WHO Assembly, I´m proud of how the network and the media has let us be incorporated into priority issues in global health. The social media is the key these days to keep us informed. Thanks, Chelsea for the information. More people in our country in this moment are updated by #WOHA.

  2. You might find this article of use as a patient centric approach to healthcare social media

  3. […] crisis of WHO, … and we’re only halfway. This year, the WHA also makes an effort to jump on the social media […]

  4. […] Comme vous le savez probablement, la 64ème Assemblée Mondiale de la Santé s’est déroulée il y’a quelques jours. Naturellement, la réforme et le financement de l’OMS ont reçu beaucoup d’attention, par exemple, dans des articles grand public, et sur le site de KFF où le discours d’ouverture de Margaret Chan, puis celui de Bill Gates sur la prochaine « décennie des vaccins », et encore Chan sur la crise du financement de l’OMS ont été commentés. Gates a notamment appelé à plus d’investissement dans la recherche et le financement de nouveaux vaccins notamment contre le palu ou le SIDA. Et MSF de réagir qu’il ne faut pas perdre de vue que les vaccins existants et bon marchés ne doivent pas pour autant être laissés pour compte. La rougeole tue encore trop dans de nombreux pays. Cette année, l’Assemblée Mondiale a fait un effort pour prendre le train des média sociaux. […]

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