Executive Board pushes forward with reform
The 132nd Executive Board held in January turned out to be among the best-attended in the history of the Board with close to 1000 registered delegates and observers, a full agenda (including several items on WHO reform), and more than 800 pages of background documents for the delegates to read.
Reform discussions included review of partnerships, streamlining for more strategic decisions, an information sharing platform, changes to the Staff Rules and the reform implementation plan.
What is the Executive Board?
The Executive Board is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a Member State elected to do so by the World Health Assembly. Board members are elected for a three-year term.
The Board meets at least twice a year; the main meeting is normally in January, with a second shorter meeting in May, immediately after the World Health Assembly. The main functions of the Executive Board are to put into action the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work.
Through reform the role of the Executive Board will also be strengthened to make priority setting and decision making more strategic for the Organization.
WHO hosts a number of partnerships that provide a valuable complement to the work of the Organization. The Programme, Budget and Administration Committee of the Executive Board (PBAC) is reviewing the partnerships to ensure that their work is in line with WHO’s, and that the Organization fully recovers costs of hosting partnership secretariats.
Streamlining for more strategic decisions
Member States expressed diverse views on streamlining the work of the governing bodies. The outcome was a request for an in-depth study on the legal and practical implications of changing the Rules and Procedures for Executive Board and World Health Assembly work. The proposed changes aim to make the agenda shorter and more focused, so the governing bodies can concentrate on making decisions on key issues with full, productive discussion and debate.
Paper smart meetings
Is it possible for the meetings of governing bodies to become paper-free? With new information technologies, the thousands of pages that are printed for each participant at every meeting might be a thing of the past. Member States asked the secretariat to look into options to minimize the use of paper.
Finding the right balance
With more actors than ever before working in the area of health, WHO needs efficient tools to be able to engage partners and stakeholders, but at the same time be protected from vested influence. Work on formulating policies for engagement with non-governmental organizations and the commercial private sector has begun. The Executive Board has requested that this work is expanded to cover engagement with all non-state actors. Proposals on principles of engagement will be discussed at WHA in May.
Common information sharing platform
The WHO constitution sets out reporting requirements for the Member States, which includes statistical data reporting, health policy reporting and reporting on implementation or resolutions and decisions by the governing bodies. WHO is looking at ways to create one channel that Member States can rely on and where they know they will find all relevant information that concerns them and their relations with WHO. This will improve transparency, accountability and coherence.
Staff rule changes end continuing appointments for new staff
Several changes to the staff rules were approved by the Board, including the phase out of continuing appointments for staff members who did not hold a fixed-term appointment on 1 February 2013, and those who join the Organization after that date. Staff members holding a continuing appointment on 1 February 2013 are not affected. The staff associations had requested the EB to reconsider these proposals, but the EB agreed that the proposed changes were necessary in the current economic climate.
Follow WHO reform implementation online
The PBAC was given a demonstration of the online WHO implementation plan, which gives an overview of the status of implementation of reform and allows tracking of progress.
We measure progress of reform in how far we have come in delivering 48 outputs. These will contribute to achieving the three objectives of the reform.