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A step towards strengthening country offices

January 2014

WHO representatives from country offices.

What do you get when you bring together the heads of all WHO offices? Strategic and open discussions on the future of the Organization!

The seventh global meeting of the heads of WHO offices in countries, territories and areas (HWOs) with the Director-General and Regional Directors was held at WHO headquarters in Geneva from 18 to 22 November 2013. Issues ranging from technical topics as part of WHO leadership priorities, such as noncommunicable diseases and universal health coverage, were covered, reform was at the center of discussions.

Reform at country level means strengthening country offices to ensure that WHO provides efficient and effective support to Member States. Countries’ need for WHO support change over time as their social, economic and health situations progress. WHO needs to be prepared and flexible enough to provide support through those changes.

Heads of WHO Offices in countries, territories and areas (HWOs) in conversation with a WHO Director.

The Director-General underscored the role of HWOs as change agents in defining the success of the reform. In response, HWOs formulated several key action points crucial to strengthening WHO work in countries:

  • Strengthen WHO’s convening and facilitating role at country level: ensure a minimum country presence in each country, with staff skilled in policy analysis, monitoring and evaluation and communication.
  • Align planning and resource allocation with country priorities: ensure bottom-up planning of resources, develop easier and faster processes for revising budget ceilings, provide financial flexibility to enhance responsiveness, and make the country cooperation strategy a strategic management tool.
  • Address country-level human resources challenges: ensure that HR profiles match country needs and priorities; fast-track compulsory mobility and rotation to facilitate re-profiling at country level; align staff development and training efforts with emerging needs at country office and make career development effective.

The global meeting of the heads of WHO offices takes place every two years. The outcome of the meeting will be taken on board in further development of reform at country level.

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