About WHO

Leading the way, 2014–2019

May 2014

WHO leadership priorities

Leadership priorities give focus and direction to WHO’s work. Their ultimate purpose is to promote health and well-being. More specifically, they link to the Organization’s role in health governance, highlighting areas in which WHO’s advocacy and technical leadership in the global health arena are most needed.

These are the areas in which WHO will seek to shape the global debate, to secure country involvement, and to drive the way the Organization works – integrating efforts across and between levels of WHO.

The 6 leadership priorities


Advancing universal health coverage

Development goals icon - leadership priorities


Health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Non communicable diseases icon leadership priorities

Addressing the challenge of noncommunicable diseases and mental health, violence and injuries and disabilities

Access icon - leadership priorities

Increasing access to essential, high-quality and affordable medical products (medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and other health technologies)

Determinants icon leadership priorities

Addressing the social, economic and environmental determinants of health as a means of reducing health inequities within and between countries

International Health Regulations icon leadership priorities

Implementing the provisions of the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, ensuring that all countries can meet the capacity requirements specified.

This issue of Change@WHO highlights two leadership priorities: building the capacities needed to implement the IHR and fulfilling the health-related MDGs.

The International Health Regulations

The International Health Regulations came into force in 2007. This legally binding instrument is the primary means of protecting the world from new and re-emerging diseases, microbial shocks, and other threats to public health and global health security.

Countries are obligated, by 2016, to establish a series of functions to ensure that they can detect, verify, assess, and respond to public health threats. The core capacities needed to fulfill these functions include national legislation, policy and financing; coordination and communication through a national focal point; surveillance; response; preparedness; risk communication; human resources; and laboratories.

For many countries, implementing all of the IHR’s provisions is a challenge. They are asking for support to ensure that they can fulfil the requirements. One example of support for building risk communication capacity is described below.

Fulfilling the health-related MDGs

Ensuring that countries are at the heart of WHO’s work has been one of the main objectives of reform. This issue of Change@WHO examines a critically important success in one country, in the article below, that serves as a model of another leadership priority, which is to finish the job of the health-related MDGs.

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