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WHO reform process

Landmark events of the WHO reform process from the initial consultation on the future of financing for WHO

Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly (WHA66) and Executive Board 133, May 2013

Two reform milestones were achieved through decisions in the Assembly: the adoption of the Twelfth General Programme of Work 2014-2019, which provides the organization with a new strategic vision for the next six-years, and the Programme Budget 2014-2015 that was for the first time approved in its entirety. The Assembly decided to push forward with a Financing Dialogue to ensure the funding of the programme budget. In the area of Governance reform the Board gave direction to the Secretariat for the development of a policy for WHO’s engagement with non-State actors.

132nd Executive Board, January 2013

The draft twelfth general programme of work and the proposed programme budget 2014-2015 were the center of the discussions. WHO reform report, high-level implementation plan and the online tool to monitor the status of reform implementation were presented and discussed. The Secretariat sought the Board’s views on a number of issues including development of a policy on engagement with nongovernmental organizations, streamline of the reporting of and communication with Member States, and the modalities for a second stage independent evaluation of the WHO reform.

Special Session of the Programme, Budget and Administration Committee of the Executive Board (PBAC), 6-7 December 2012

The Committee discussed options of improving the transparency, predictability and flexibility of WHO’s financing and reviewed the issues raised in discussion in the regional committees on the draft twelfth general programme of work and the proposed programme budget 2014–2015. The Committee recommended that the entire budget should be approved by the World Health Assembly, that a financing dialogue should be established to finance the budget and that the Organization should explore ways of broadening the donor base.

Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly (WHA) and 131st session of the Executive Board (EB), May 2012

WHO’s priority setting process dominated the reform discussion at the WHA – Member States endorsed the outcome of the February Member State’s meeting on programmes and priority setting while recognizing that special emphasis should be given to determinants of health. A number of reforms across the governance and managerial programmatic streams were endorsed and the Secretariat was asked to move forward including implementation. In other areas such as the financing of WHO Member States asked the Secretariat to revisit the issue at a special session of the Programme, Budget and Administration Committee (PBAC) scheduled for early December.

Member State meeting on programmes and priority setting, February 2012

One of the Executive Board's decisions at its 130th session was that the reform of programmes and priority setting would be discussed in a Member State-driven process. The process included a meeting, open to all Member States, held at WHO headquarters in Geneva on 27th and 28th February (preceded on 26th February by a presentation and information session with the Secretariat).

The Director-General invited Member States to send comments on the current proposals on programmes and priority setting through a dedicated web-based consultation in advance of the meeting. The Member States reached consensus on a set of categories of work for WHO (communicable diseases, noncommunicable diseases, promoting health through the life course, health systems, and preparedness, surveillance and response) and criteria that will guide the process of setting the Organization’s priorities.

130th Executive Board, January 2012

Consultation with Member States on the reform agenda resumed during the 130th session of the Executive Board (16–23 January 2012). This consultation follows up on the dialogue from the Board's special session on reform (1–3 November 2011). Member States had also been participating in an ongoing web-based consultation on the reform agenda.

Executive Board special session, 1-3 November 2011

About 100 Member States attended the first ever three-day special session of the Board. Decisions were reached in each of the three main areas: priorities, governance and managerial reform.

Sixty-fourth World Health Assembly and 129th session of the Executive Board, May 2011

At the sixty-fourth World Health Assembly the Director-General presented the consolidated report The future of financing for WHO that outlined elements of the direction for programme of reform. Member States passed a resolution endorsing the overall direction of the reform. At the 129th session of the Executive Board following directly on the WHA it was decided that the reform would be a Member States driven process.

128th session of the Executive Board, January 2011

The 128th session of the Executive Board asked the Secretariat to take a broad vision for reform forward and present a more detailed programme to the World Health Assembly in May. Out of the discussion it also became clear that there were three main objectives and three related components of reform:

  • greater focus to meet the expectations of Member States in addressing health priorities;
  • greater coherence in global health through better governance; and
  • an organization that was fit for purpose through management reforms.

This three part structure: priorities, governance and management remains the organizing framework for the process to date.

The future of financing for WHO – January 2010

In January 2010, the Director-General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan convened an informal consultation on the future of financing for WHO. The consultation brought together senior officials and ministers from ministries of health, development cooperation, finance and foreign affairs speaking in their personal capacity. While the starting point for the meeting was a discussion about the financing of WHO, participants raised more fundamental questions about the role of WHO and the nature of its core business in the rapidly changing environment of global health.

Latest reports on reform