Top Health Finance Takeaways from the 77th World Health Assembly

Late last month, government delegations, implementing partners, innovators, investors, and other stakeholders from around the world convened for the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, to address this year’s theme: All for Health, Health for All.

HFC’s Alex Honjiyo represented the Health Finance Coalition in Geneva– to learn from, connect with, and strengthen relationships with partner organizations, innovative companies and investors, and leading international institutions. Refreshed and inspired from WHA77, here are a few of his high-level takeaways from the week:

DFIs, multilateral donors, and private philanthropic foundations are looking to change the way they collaborate to catalyze more impact and investment, to scale global health innovations through the public and private sectors.

The momentum around the need to increase donor and DFI collaboration with private philanthropic foundations was palpable at the Impact Investment Initiative for Global Health (Triple I for Global Health) event. Triple I for Global Health is an initiative of the Japanese Government as a part of its Presidency of the G7 that seeks to raise awareness and share best practices on impact investment in global health.

This event looked at how to best attract more private investment to accelerate progress towards Universal Health Care (UHC). Triple I brought in key senior stakeholders to align on investment strategies and gain a better understanding on the wider financing and health ecosystem.

During the event, representatives from major donors and DFIs recognized the need to change the way they work with private foundations. Dr. Megumi Muto, the Vice President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA, highlighted, in particular, that DFIs should seek to find a better balance between risk return and impact. In response, John-Arne Rottingen, the CEO of Wellcome Trust, gave the room a call to action, stating that he and the foundation he represents are willing to work with DFIs and donors to find that new balance between official development assistance and development finance institutions or DFIs – and spending and investment – in order to enable, catalyze, mobilize and encourage private sector investors to come into this sector.

To round out the conversation, John Fairhurst, Head of Private Sector Engagement at the Global Fund explained that DFI and philanthropy investment collaboration must support the scale of compelling, effective new business models out there in both the private sector as well as the public sector. Investors must help these businesses or new technologies find their way at different points of their value chain, and part of that needs to come from collaboration between the public and private sectors, to facilitate and scale to markets.

Corporate-led venture investors are pioneering new ways to prioritize the “impact” for the impact investment sector.

This compelling leadership from corporate venture investors to ensure that investments are achieving the impact we all care about was highlighted at Baraka Impact Capital’s event. Baraka Impact Capital looks to connect social enterprises to impact investors. The event looked to first, showcase the pivotal role of private investors and funders in driving commercially scalable global health solutions. Second, to ignite a call to action to increase the allocation of impact capital, form innovative partnerships, and proactively seek out the emerging market health innovators in our ecosystem.

But what was particularly compelling about the event was how corporate venture investors like Merck, Johnson and Johnson, and AXA highlighted their impact first investment strategies. While they acknowledged that unlike other corporate investors in the health sector, they are looking to prioritize achievement of clear, demonstrable health impact, ahead of financial returns and corporate alignment.

Merck’s Ken Gustavsen, executive director, Social Business Innovation, and impact investing portfolio manager stressed how Merck’s investments prioritize scale and seek to reach the largest number of people possible. Caitlin Bristol, Director, Social Innovation at J&J Impact Ventures discussed how, similarly, J&J Impact Ventures prioritizes how their core investment KPI the transformative potential of the investee to model enable accessible, affordable, quality health care for all.

Dengue is receiving the recognition as a major global health challenge whose compounding threat will impact countries in the Global North as well as the Global South.

Throughout the entire week, delegates and stakeholders from around the world were citing the rise in cases of dengue fever, and the need to find new solutions to address the disease. At the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ISNTD) WHA77 side event, Dr. Raman Velayudhan of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) the Global NTD Programme gave a sobering overview of the state of the disease globally. According to the WHO, the world recorded the highest number of dengue cases ever in 2023, affecting over 80 countries in all regions of WHO, resulting in a historic high of over 6.5 million cases and more than 7,300 dengue-related deaths reported.1 The situation is so concerning that the WHO recently declared dengue as a multi-country Grade 3 outbreak, unlocking new WHO resources and coordination capacity to address the disease.2 A part of this new approach taken by the WHO to address the disease will be to support and enhance the development of new and innovative approaches to counteract dengue and other arboviruses, including vaccines and vector control tools, like Wolbachia.

WHA77 week in Geneva was an exciting opportunity to learn from influential actors and gain inspiration to support health for all – and bring along as many as possible to support and invest in health. Whether it is in support of the new commitments from major DFIs and donors to collaborate and invest in new ways, the leadership of corporate investors in driving the need to invest in high impact solutions, or the announcement of new WHO resources to fight a growing disease of global concern – HFC is committed to supporting these actors in harnessing investment to achieve our world’s public health goals.


[1] “Dengue and Severe Dengue.” World Health Organization, May 23, 2024.

[2] “Dengue – Global Situation.” World Health Organization, May 30, 2024.

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