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Hi, this is Michelle and today we get ahead of a tough session for the WHO as countries call for reform following a damning report on its preparedness to health emergencies. Member states will have to debate next week whether a pandemics treaty is the way forward.

This week, the WHO is also sounding the alarm bells on the growing risks of drug-resistant microbes. And with Cop26 in the rear-view mirror, we take a close look at what’s next for Afghanistan, as development financial aid remains in limbo and a deadly drought threatens to push millions into famine.

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Michelle Langrand


On our radar

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People walk towards a vaccination station in Vienna, Austria. Days after announcing a lockdown for unvaccinated people last week, the Austrian government announced a full national lockdown from Monday. (Credit: Keystone/EPA/Christian Bruna)

😷 Uncertainties over a treaty persist ahead of the WHA special session. The World Health Assembly is set to convene a special session next week to go about strengthening the World Health Organization’s preparedness to respond to emergencies, while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage in countries around the globe. The working group tasked with looking into how this can be done published its report last week, calling for countries to outline a member state-led process to develop a new “instrument” to strengthen the International Health Regulations (IHR), which currently governs the way the WHO and member countries function during health emergencies. The report will be discussed at the session beginning on 29 November, with many countries calling for reform after Covid-19 laid IHR’s weaknesses bare.

Devex (EN)

🦠 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week. The WHO kicked off this year’s awareness week with a stark warning that 10 million people could die per year as a result of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by 2050 if urgent action isn’t taken. Four million of these deaths would be across Africa, highlighting the drastic inequality of AMR deaths. Drug-resistant tuberculosis is a growing phenomenon, as are malaria parasites which are becoming resistant to many treatments. The WHO issued an appeal last week for stronger policies to fight AMR.

Health Policy Watch (EN)

Here's what else is happening

Dispatches from Afghanistan

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🪖 Female army officers are not safe, says Second Lieutenant Shukria Amiri, who until August was serving in the Afghan security forces. Despite the amnesty announced by the Taliban, including those who worked for western militaries or the Afghan government or police, targeted killings are still being reported in Kabul and other cities. The 21-year old, who until recently worked for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense, recounts her journey to becoming an officer and the day her mother burnt her military uniform for fear of being discovered after the change in power.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

🌏 A looming climate threat amid political turmoil. Afghanistan’s absence from the negotiating rooms during climate talks in Glasgow might have not surprised many observers. But it is an indication of the limbo in which the drought-hit country sits as the international community debates on how to deal with the new Taliban-led government and keeps the development money faucet closed, all while a humanitarian crisis worsened by climate change unfolds.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Next on the agenda

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A photo of a refugee taken aboard the Aquarius, SOS Mediterranée’s rescue vessel, chartered between February 2016 and December 2018. The photo forms part of an exhibition being held at Uni Mail from 13-28 November. (Credit: SOS Mediterranée)

📌 22-26 November | Human Rights Week, University of Geneva. This year’s event, focused on inequalities and discrimination, comprises several events including an exhibition by SOS Mediteranée (pictured) and a debate tonight at Uni Dufour on contemporary forms of slavery. Speakers include Nagham Hriech Wahabi, President of the International Organization Against Modern Slavery, Gulanara Shahinian, former special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery at the UN and Anne-Frédérique Widmann, investigative journalist and great reporter.


📌 23 November | International Geneva Luncheon, The Graduate Institute. This event series, co-organised with the UN Office at Geneva and supported by the Canton of Geneva, is designed to facilitate dialogue between scholars and mid to senior level policy practitioners from across the UN system. This month’s topic is SDGs, quantification, and the production of expertise.

The Graduate Institute (EN)

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