Health systems

Where WHO is making a difference

Promoting dialogue and collaboration in the health sector:

Through a partnership between the European Union (EU), Luxembourg and WHO, 19 countries have strengthened their national health policy-making process by establishing a platform for collaboration between civil society, the private sector, research bodies, academics and other relevant parties.

Improving the quality, safety and efficacy of health products:

Through its Prequalification Programme, WHO is building the capacity of regulatory authorities and researchers to assess the quality of medicines, vaccines and diagnostics.

Helping countries make health care affordable:

With WHO support Benin and Morocco have developed health financing strategies that help poor people get health care without experiencing financial hardship.

Expanding access to treatment:

Partnering with the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, WHO is helping 15 African countries to improve their pharmaceutical systems, including the selection of appropriate medicines, upgrading their supply and distribution channels and promoting optimal prescription and use of medicines, thereby improving patient treatment.

Promoting research and development (R&D):

WHO has spearheaded the search for effective vaccines, diagnostics and medicines for Ebola by creating a strong platform for collaboration between the public and private sectors and securing financing. To date, two lead vaccines are in the final phase of testing in Ebola-affected countries, and three diagnostic tests have been assessed by WHO as eligible for deployment.

Addressing the health needs of a growing ageing population:

In People's Republic of China, Ghana, India, Mexico, the Russian Federation and South Africa, WHO is investigating patterns of ageing to provide data for evidence-informed policy making.

Improving patient safety:

Through the WHO African Partnerships for Patient Safety, hospitals in 29 countries have partnered with hospitals in the northern and southern hemispheres to improve hand hygiene, patient safety and community engagement in health services.

Promoting an integrated, cost-effective approach:

With WHO support Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Viet Nam are reducing inefficiency by integrating all health services including immunization and treatment of tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS. WHO experts also have worked with the United Kingdom to help dozens of countries make their health financing systems more efficient.

Fast-tracking regulatory procedures:

WHO is helping several countries in Africa accelerate the availability of medicines to patients. One such example, the Zazibona initiative, is allowing Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to share data and practices in assessing priority products, thereby saving resources and time to register medicines. In addition, WHO has introduced an emergency procedure under its Prequalification Programme for rapid assessment and availability of diagnostics, medicines and vaccines for deployment during epidemics.

Promoting resilient systems:

WHO is the leading agency in global efforts to build resilient health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as these countries recover from the Ebola epidemic. A strong focus on integrating effective surveillance and response mechanisms into their health systems will be key feature to preventing future outbreaks from turning into major global threats.