Country focus

From Nairobi to Maputo: strengthening of WHO country office capacity for better support to Member States

Following the lessons learnt from the "Nairobi Process", in 2005 the new Regional Director for Africa decided to initiate a programme to re-profile all 46 WHO country teams in the WHO African Region, starting with three workshops in Accra, Brazzaville and Nairobi to provide the necessary skills and understanding to WHO Representatives and their Administrative Officers. The participants were taken through the process of re-profiling their country teams, enabling their teams to work across programmes and focus on the priorities agreed in the CCS. The WRs were then able to brief their country teams, and prepare plans for the re-profiling process. The CSU/AFRO and the Department of Country Focus in headquarters provided full support to this exercise, in close collaboration with the Departments of Human Resources Services (HRS) from both AFRO and headquarters.

In May 2005, the Regional Director for Africa and the heads of three WHO clusters (Evidence and Information for Policy, Family and Community Health and General Management) agreed on a country/regional/headquarters joint planning exercise for 2006–2007 in 13 African countries (Angola, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania). This took place in Maputo, Mozambique on 31 August and 1 September 2005, with the aim of enhancing the feedback provided by the regional office. The overall objective of the meeting was to develop a coherent institutional strategy for the three levels of the Organization in its support to countries, with the aim of promoting universal coverage and access through the strengthening of WHO capacity in countries, supporting the development of national health systems and the scaling up of essential interventions. The specific objectives were to: reach a common understanding of universal coverage and access and the role of WHO in its achievement and to agree on priorities identified by the 13 selected countries for the 2006–2007 biennium for which AFRO and headquarters will provide support.

This process now called the "Maputo Process" is being taken forward by the setting up of joint AFRO–headquarters working groups responsible for topics such as managerial issues, WHO country presence, and technical assistance and universal coverage. The experience of the working groups had been extremely positive with clear interest being shown by members from country offices, the regional office and headquarters. The "Maputo Process" has clearly proven to be an innovative way of doing business – maintaining dialogue across and within the levels of the Organization – for improving health in the African Region.