Frequently asked questions

Question: What is needs assessment under the Convention?

Answer: Article 26 of the Convention recognizes the importance that financial resources play in achieving the objectives of the WHO FCTC. The Conference of the Parties (COP) further requested that needs assessments be undertaken at country level, especially in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to ensure that lower-resource Parties receive the necessary support to fully meet their obligations under the Convention. The COP also directed the Convention Secretariat to assist Parties, upon request, in carrying out needs assessments and to actively seek extrabudgetary contributions specifically for this purpose. A needs assessment is aimed at assessing progress in implementation of the treaty by the Party concerned, including any gaps between the requirements of the treaty and measures taken by the Party, and thus identifying the needs to be addressed to ensure full implementation. During the needs assessment exercise, all legislative, executive, administrative or other measures taken so far by the Party are analysed, with a view to identifying any gaps and resource needs concerning implementation.

Q: Can Parties request the Convention Secretariat to assist them in conducting needs assessments?

A: Yes. The competent authority of the Party should send an official request letter to the Convention Secretariat. For details please contact fctcsecretariat@who.int

Q: What is the methodology of the needs assessments?

A: The needs assessments are carried out in three phases: (1) initial analysis of the status, challenges and potential needs deriving from the latest sources of information, including Party implementation reports; (2) visit of a team of experts led by the Convention Secretariat to the country for a joint review of the status of implementation with government representatives of the health and other relevant sectors, and to obtain further details and clarifications, review additional materials jointly identified, and develop and finalize the needs assessment report in cooperation with the government focal point(s); and (3) assisting the Party in the post-needs assessment phase to identify potential areas, priority action and, as appropriate, resources, to fill the existing gaps.

The visits usually include a courtesy call/meeting with the minister of health, followed by meetings with a wide range of stakeholders involved in implementation of the treaty, especially the various government departments/ministries/agencies, legislative bodies, WHO Representative, UN Resident Coordinator and other development partners. The most practical approach is to have a wide stakeholder consultation in which all interested stakeholders including civil society are able to indicate their specific contributions to implementation of the treaty by participating in a discussion organized by treaty articles.

Q: Why is the needs assessment a joint exercise?

A: Each needs assessment is jointly conducted by the Party concerned and the Convention Secretariat with the objective of ensuring national ownership of the process and outcome. The Convention Secretariat works closely with the designated focal person of the Party during the whole process. In consultation with the Party, the Secretariat also invites representatives of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, the relevant WHO regional and/or country office(s), and international organizations and development partners, as appropriate, to join the international team. Civil society at national level is invited through the Party. Coordination with the WHO country office is an important element in conducting the needs assessment and follow-up action.

Q: How long does the needs assessment mission usually take?

A: A normal needs assessment mission takes five working days.

Q: Why do the needs assessments emphasize the United Nation’s Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF)?

A: The UNDAF is the strategic programme framework for the UN country team to collectively respond to priorities in national development. COP decisions fully endorse the UNDAF as the strategic framework at country level, in the case of developing countries, in providing support to Parties to implement the Convention.

Q: What is expected from the Party in support of the needs assessment?

A: The Party should share relevant information, such as tobacco-control legislation, regulations, recent surveillance data, national strategy or action plan, and other materials that would be useful in preparation for the mission. The Party is also expected to provide local logistic support.

Q: What is the content of the joint needs assessment report?

A: The report contains a detailed overview of the status of implementation of substantive articles of the treaty. The report identifies gaps and areas in which further action is needed to ensure full compliance with the requirements of the treaty and implementation of the guidelines adopted by the COP where relevant. This is followed by specific recommendations and actions.

Q: How long does it usually take to finalize the needs assessment report?

A: It usually takes the Convention Secretariat and the national focal point two to three months to draft and finalize the report, although the situation may be different from country to country.

Q: What are the follow-up actions after the report is finalized?

A: The Party is expected to analyse the report and identify priority areas according to the gaps and recommendations identified in the report. The Convention Secretariat will share the needs identified with development partners and assist the Party to obtain the appropriate financial and technical assistance. The Convention Secretariat may also assist the Party in developing project proposals and helping to approach development partners for such assistance.

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