Press Release WHO/82Director-General unveils comprehensive changes at WHO The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland has unveiled comprehensive changes to the structure and management of WHO.
9 November 1998
When Dr Brundtland was elected in July she promised a major reform of the Organization. The first stage of that process is now complete:
"Many people have observed WHO during these challenging weeks and many have asked: is it possible to reform a UN agency? The answer is yes. Yes it is possible and we are doing it."
Among the main elements of the reform are:
A new senior management team and decision making in Cabinet
- 50 existing programmes were first grouped in 9 clusters then reduced to 35 departments
- Setting up high profile cabinet projects such as Roll Back Malaria, the Tobacco Free Initiative and Partnerships for health sector development
- Rethinking management support with less bureaucracy and more emphasis on performance and results
- Staff mobility and rotation and an ambitious policy of gender balance
- New partnerships with external partners and other UN agencies
The aim of the new clusters is to reflect WHO's business and to promote cooperation between groups, programmes, regions and countries. The Cabinet reflects a new collective style of senior management within WHO to encourage a leadership and team work approach to the work of the Organization. The reform also represents a new way of working for WHO. Cabinet projects will involve staff from many different parts of WHO, including external partners, with the various disciplines working more closely together to increase efficiency and cut down duplication.
Dr Brundtland also announced two other radical changes: the decentralisation of many management functions to the clusters such as personnel and the budget and a new policy aimed at more mobility between different parts of WHO, between the Regions and country offices.
"We are making a difference in the way we work. Our Tobacco Free
Initiative is changing the global agenda with its clear direction and solid focus. We launched Roll Back Malaria together with UNICEF, the World Bank and UNDP. This is UN reform in practice," said Dr Brundtland.
"Time has come to take a deep breath and move along with our agenda on heath. Let's now direct all our energy to the technical activities."
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