Country focus

Country Focus policy discussed at the 116th session of the Executive Board

A report entitled WHO country offices and country focus was prepared and presented to the 116th session of the Executive Board in May 2005. Besides providing an update on the six components of the Country Focus policy (see below), the paper also attempted to link the implementation of the policy to other WHO processes aimed at improving the performance of the WHO Secretariat overall, emphasizing in particular the decentralization process that was aimed to increase WHO’s impact on health and development at country level.

The country focus policy gears WHO's operations to the needs of Member States at country level. The success of the country focus policy is linked to other WHO processes, in particular the change in resources to increase the organization's impact on health and development at country level by providing support for countries to develop their own health systems. The six components used to monitor progress are:

  • country cooperation strategies
  • core competencies and capacities of country teams
  • coherent programmatic and technical support from regional offices and headquarters
  • effective functioning of country offices
  • information and knowledge management to and from countries
  • working with organizations of the United Nations system and development partners.

Priority actions for strengthening the Country Focus policy

The following priority actions will be undertaken to strengthen the impact of the country focus policy:

  • The country cooperation strategy will be used in broad strategic dialogue on WHO's cooperation with Member States, including identification of core competencies needed for technical cooperation and definition of the appropriate core presence in each country.
  • Common criteria and approaches will be determined for establishing and maintaining adequate core presence in countries, including support from WHO collaborating centres, so that WHO's core functions are carried out as agreed with Member States, including its normative work and intercountry collaboration.
  • The "one WHO country plan and budget" will be progressively implemented as part of WHO's regular budgeting and managerial process, to provide integrated technical support to Member States.
  • Mechanisms for accountability of WHO country offices in areas such as management of resources, adherence to technical guidance and quality of technical support will be improved.
  • A system will be devised to monitor the performance of WHO at country level, including its influence, together with key partners, on the public health agenda, and its contribution to health outcomes in Member States.