About WHO

Leadership priorities

Our leadership priorities give focus and direction to our work. They are areas where it is vital for WHO to lead – the key issues which stand out from the body of our work.

WHO leadership priorities infographic.
Universal health coverage icon

Universal health coverage

The big idea

Universal health coverage combines access to the services needed to achieve good health with financial protection to prevent ill health leading to poverty.

What will we do?

Respond to demand from countries seeking practical advice on how to take universal health coverage forward.

The International Health Regulations icon

The International Health Regulations (2005)

The big idea

WHO has a leadership role in establishing the systems that make up the global defence against shocks coming from the microbial world.

What will we do?

Support countries to put in place the capacities required by the International Health Regulations (2005) and report on progress. We will strengthen our own systems and networks to ensure a rapid and well-coordinated response to public health emergencies.

Increasing access to medical products icon

Increasing access to medical products

The big idea

Equity in public health depends on access to essential, high-quality and affordable medical technologies. Improving access to medical products is central to the achievement of universal health coverage.

What will we do?

We will continue to improve access to safe, quality, affordable and effective medicines. We will support innovation for affordable health technology, local production, and national regulatory authorities.

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Social, economic and environmental determinants

The big idea

To improve people’s health outcomes and increase healthy life expectancy requires action across the range of contextual factors associated with ill health as well as inequitable health outcomes.

What will we do?

We will work with other sectors to act on what causes disease and ill health. Our work will address health determinants and promote equity.

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Noncommunicable diseases

The big idea

The rise of noncommunicable diseases has devastating health consequences for individuals, families and communities, and threatens to overwhelm health systems.

What will we do?

It is a priority to coordinate a coherent, multisectoral response at global, regional and local levels.

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Health-related Sustainable Development Goals

The big idea

The Sustainable Development Goals are the world’s to-do list between 2015 and 2030, encompassing 17 integrated and indivisible goals for a fairer, safer and healthier world. Health is the focus of goal 3, "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages", but is relevant to the other 16 goals. The SDGs build on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, but are broader, deeper and far more ambitious in their scope.

What will we do?

The Goals integrate many aspects of our work, particularly building resilient health systems and effective health institutions for sustainable and equitable health outcomes, to ensure no-one is left behind.

Related publication

Infographic on leadership priorities

General programme of work 2019−2023