About WHO

Advisory Group on Reform of WHO’s Work in Outbreaks and Emergencies with Health and Humanitarian Consequences

About the Reform

WHO’s emergency reform aims to strengthen and consolidate the Organization’s capacities to respond and prepare for all manner of crises that impact on people’s health and disrupt the delivery of health care services. On 21 July, 2015, the WHO Director-General announced the establishment of an Advisory Group, which has been meeting regularly to provide guidance on the proposed reforms.

Since its establishment, the Advisory Group has been instrumental in providing WHO with the guidance needed for undertaking its reform process.

Following the first face-to-face meeting on 26-27 October 2015, the Advisory Group produced its first report.

The Advisory Group met in Geneva on 7-8 January 2016 to conclude its work and finalize its recommendations. Dr David Nabarro, chair of the Advisory Group, has presented its second and final report to the Director-General.

About the Advisory Group

A high-level Advisory Group, convened by the WHO Director-General, will work through to the end of 2015 and offer guidance on the Organization’s emergency reform process. In particular, the group will advise on steering reforms to strengthen WHO’s capacities to respond to and prepare for disease outbreaks and other emergencies with health and humanitarian consequences.

The Advisory Group comprises high-level experts in large-scale emergency response, disaster preparedness, disease outbreak control and crisis coordination. Its members hold senior leadership positions in United Nations agencies, government and international humanitarian non-governmental organizations.

The Chair of the Advisory Group is Dr David Nabarro, the United Nations Secretary-General Special Envoy on Ebola, as well as a former WHO Assistant Director-General responsible leading humanitarian emergencies response and preparedness. The Director-General may invite other experts to join the advisory group as required.

Terms of reference

The Advisory Group will provide regular advice and guidance in all aspects of the change management process to the Director-General of the WHO focusing especially on:

  • Designing and establishing a Platform across the 3 levels of the WHO Secretariat, that enables it to establish the best possible performance in managing the full scope of risk to health (including risk assessment, risk characterization, risk communication and risk management) as well as in responding to outbreaks and emergencies (whether acute or protracted) with health and humanitarian consequences.
  • Supporting WHO so that it is equipped to coordinate Member States, the United Nations, and operational partners during outbreaks and emergencies.

The Director-General will participate in meetings of the Advisory Group, which will be supported by a secretariat within WHO. The meetings and decisions of the Advisory Group will be made publicly available, and the process will be consultative and seeking perspectives within the WHO and beyond.


The group will be comprised of 19 members, subject to review of the Declaration of Interests for WHO Experts.

In exercise of their functions, the members of the Advisory Group act only as international experts serving WHO exclusively. In this capacity, they may not request or receive instructions from any government or authority external to the WHO.