Director-General's Office

Global Policy Group Statement on reforms of WHO work in outbreaks and emergencies

Global Policy Group Statement on reforms of WHO work in outbreaks and emergencies
Geneva, Switzerland

30 January 2016

Following the Special Session of the Executive Board on Ebola held in January 2015 and the 68th World Health Assembly in May, we, the Director-General, Deputy Director-General and Regional Directors of WHO, have been leading the transformation of WHO’s work in outbreaks and emergencies.

This transformation is guided by the report and recommendations of the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel, the Advisory Group on Reform of WHO’s Work in Outbreaks and Emergencies, and external reports, as well as the discussions in the WHO Executive Board this week.

We are fully committed to urgently reform the emergency work of WHO in a comprehensive way through the establishment of one single Programme, with one workforce, one budget, one set of rules and processes and above all one clear line of authority. We are fully committed to an independent mechanism of assessment and monitoring of the performance of the Organization, reporting to the governing bodies.

This new Programme is designed to be comprehensive, addressing all hazards, flexibly, rapidly and responsively, with a principle of ‘no regrets’. It will work synergistically with other WHO programmes and partners to address the full cycle of health emergency preparedness, response and recovery. It will encourage full participation and integration of all partners, and will operate with clear accountability and standard performance metrics. It will consolidate and expand our existing capacities at country, regional and headquarters levels, and will leverage the unique governance structure of WHO.

We are taking the following steps:

  • As of February we will use key aspects of the single programme and incident management approach to manage all new health emergencies
  • By end February we will have established common WHO-wide emergency processes for risk assessment, incident management, health emergency information management, and rapid financial disbursements
  • By end-March we will have established the structure, reporting lines and accountabilities for the Programme, with a common structure across HQ and Regional Offices
  • The Director-General is immediately launching the process for the selection of the Executive Director of the programme. The Director-General will also establish an oversight body reporting to the Executive Board and World Health Assembly to oversee the establishment of the Programme.
  • The Director-General will provide regular updates to Member States, starting in March, on transformative changes and on establishing the Programme, and will report to the World Health Assembly in May on its functioning. The Director-General will also present the report of the IHR Review Committee at that time.

The establishment of these capabilities requires political commitment from WHO’s Member States, structural change within the Organization, an evolution of internal culture, a renewal and strengthening of relationships with external actors, and the application of new authorities, mechanisms, procedures and systems for accountability.

This will require additional resources. We therefore call upon Member States and partners to provide financial support for these ambitious changes and assist us build the operational capacity needed.

We are confident that through this transformation, WHO can fulfil its operational responsibilities and offer predictable, dependable, capable and adaptable action in support of people at risk of, or affected by, outbreaks and emergencies, consistent with ways that strengthen local and national capabilities.

We thank you for your support.