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WHO in the African Region

The World Health Organization (WHO) is building a better future for people everywhere. Health lays the foundation for vibrant and productive communities, stronger economies, safer nations and a better world. The WHO’s work touches lives around the world every day – often in invisible ways. As the lead health authority within the United Nations (UN) system, WHO helps ensure the safety of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the medicines and vaccines that treat and protect us. The Organization aims to provide every child, woman and man with the best chance to lead a healthier, longer life.

WHO has been at the centre of or behind dramatic improvements in public health since it was established in 1948, gathering the world’s top health experts, defining solutions, delivering guidelines and mobilizing governments, health workers and partners to positively impact people’s health. The Organization works in close collaboration with other UN agencies, donors, non-governmental organizations, WHO collaborating centres and the private sector. It contributes to promoting the general health of people across the world. Over 7,000 public health experts from all over the globe work for WHO, in most countries worldwide.

This brief information provides useful insight into WHO's work in collaboration with other stakeholders to improve people's health.

The WHO African Region is one of the six regions of WHO. The Organization's presence in the region consists of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, a Secretariat for the African region, three Inter-country Support Teams (ISTs) and WHO Country and Liaison Offices located in 47 Member States.

Core functions

The World Health Organization (WHO) is determined to play a transformational role in Africa to change the continent’s future by working towards strengthened global health and economic security and achieving the goals of a new era of sustainable development.

WHO is the United Nations’ specialized agency for health. Its work is founded on the concept of health as a fundamental human right, and the notion that everyone is entitled to the highest possible level of health. Its primary role is to direct and coordinate international health through six core functions:

  •          Providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
  •          Shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
  •          Setting norms and standards, and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
  •          Articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
  •          Providing technical support, catalysing change and building sustainable institutional capacity; and
  •          Monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.

WHO is firmly committed to the principles set out in the preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization.

Joint activities in the African region: WHO and WHO-FIC Collaborating Centre

The WHO-FIC Collaborating Centre in South Africa, supported by SAMRC, continues to work with WHO in the African Region to support the activities of WHO-AFRO for strengthening civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems in the African region, with a focus on cause of death coding using ICD.  WHO has invited the Collaborating Centre to participate in and contribute to ongoing training and orientation in the region on ICD-11 and other components of the WHO-FIC.

Joint posters submitted for the WHO-FIC 2017 annual meeting reflect a wide range of initiatives in multiple African countries, aimed at monitoring planning for and reporting on progress towards achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC; SDG target 3.8), and related SDG goals.

Co-hosting a conference led to a communique on the importance of Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice for Africa.

An ongoing focus of the WHO-FIC Collaborating Centre in South Africa is on the development and maintenance of a virtual network of WHO-FIC stakeholders in the WHO African region. The establishment of a database of WHO-FIC educational resources in the region, including human resources, is also planned.