WHO is reforming to be better equipped to address the increasingly complex challenges of health in the 21st century. From persisting problems to new and emerging public health threats, WHO needs the capability and flexibility to respond to this evolving environment.
Reform has three aims: programmatic reform to improve people’s health; governance reform to increase coherence in global health and managerial reform in pursuit of organizational excellence.
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Increased alignment of strategic planning with country priorities
During 2016–2017, 66% of country office budget centres were linked with 10 priority programme areas. A significant improvement has been made in the development of the programme budget for 2018–2019: 75% of country budget centres allocated at least 80% of their budget to the prioritized areas. As a result of 2015 guidance, priorities identified in country cooperation strategies are more closely linked with the outcomes of WHO strategic and biennial planning.
Geographic mobility: the voluntary phase has started with a first pilot
The new mobility policy is being implemented in a phased manner to test the procedures designed to support the policy. A first compendium issued in January 2016 led to a higher than usual number of moves between major offices. The data for the first half of 2016 show a 30% increase in the number of staff moving between major offices compared with 2015, where 2.6% of international staff moved between regions or between headquarters and a region. One objective of the managed mobility scheme is to improve cross-fertilization and moves among regions and between headquarters and regions.
Engagement with non-state actors: adoption of the framework
The WHO Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) was adopted after two years of intergovernmental negotiations. Implementation will include reviewing official relations with non-State actors and WHO’s engagement, based on a register of non-State actors. Engagement is a key aspect of WHO’s role in global health governance and non-State actors play a critical part in supporting WHO’s work to fulfil its constitutional mandate.
Strengthening the agenda for governing body meetings
Following the recommendations of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Meeting on Governance Reform, and the subsequent decision taken by the Health Assembly in May 2016, work is underway to develop a forward looking schedule for the agenda of the Board and the Health Assembly, and to strengthen agenda management.
At the biennial meeting of the heads of WHO Offices, leaders agreed tangible action items that will play a major role in strengthening our work at country level. The actions address the implications of the Sustainable Development Goals, improving our response to outbreaks and public health emergencies, and organizational accountability for results. Ensuring a coordinated approach across the 3 levels of the organization will be crucial.
The financing dialogue, 5–6 November 2015, brought together Member States and non-State contributors for an open discussion about increasing the predictability and alignment of WHO’s financing. Dr Chan announced that WHO will participate in the International Aid Transparency Initiative, a decision that was commended by numerous Member States as a positive move towards better transparency and accountability. The web portal shows a good financial position for 2016–17, however, funding gaps remain for certain programme areas. The funding outlook for 2018–19 is still low and more flexible monies are encouraged.
An open-ended intergovernmental meeting has been convened to finalize the draft framework of engagement with non-State actors on the basis of progress made during the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly. As part of its governance reform, WHO is revisiting its policies on engagement with non-State actors, including nongovernmental organizations, private sector entities, philanthropic foundations and academic institutions.
An independent panel of experts led by Dame Barbara Stocking (UK), released the final report that reviews WHO’s response to the Ebola outbreak. The panel made recommendations in three areas: the International Health Regulations (2005), WHO’s health emergency response capacity, and WHO’s role and cooperation with the wider health and humanitarian systems.