There is a palpable sense of energy and excitement at the World Health Organization (WHO) these days, as witnessed during last week’s Executive Board meeting.
The new approach is summed up as “Promote health, keep the world safe, serve the vulnerable.” But the approach isn’t simply a nice slogan – it’s a new vision and strategy that was unanimously endorsed by the board for approval at the World Health Assembly in May. The triple-billion, interconnected strategic priorities are based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and are aimed at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages:
Achieving universal health coverage (UHC). Universal access to health care, particularly primary health care based on each country’s system, is fundamentally important.
Addressing health emergencies. Back in 2014, WHO was criticized for the international community’s slow response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Now, building on the successful reforms of Dr. Margaret Chan, his predecessor, Dr. Tedros plans to measurably increase the resilience of health systems based on WHO’s International Health Regulations.
Promoting healthier populations. WHO will contribute to people enjoying better health and well-being through five platforms: human capital; noncommunicable diseases and mental health; communicable diseases; antimicrobial resistance; and the health effects of climate change in small island developing states.
The WHO Secretariat makes it clear that the agency has a catalytic role to play, but no single actor can achieve these goals. Governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, other international organizations, and many others will need to act together. But WHO is signaling its ambition in a way that, in the years to come, could transform the organization and make a major difference in the lives of billions.
Read the full article about a new WHO by John E. Lange at the United Nations Foundation.
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