World health report

Executive summary

Health care, organization and management

In the area of health infrastructure, WHO gave technical support to several low-income countries to ensure the inclusion of health considerations in economic development projects. Research is being planned with the object of improving urban health services. A health system research network was set up linking countries of North, Central and South America. Regional task forces for this type of research were set up in the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia. In Europe, the focus is on the countries of eastern Europe, where health systems research is especially weak.

WHO launched an initiative for reorienting medical education and public health training towards the twenty-first century. The Organization and the Kellogg Foundation supported Bolivia, Mexico and Zimbabwe in taking practical measures to establish an optimally balanced and productive workforce of health care personnel. WHO also supported training in health care financing and health insurance and in quality assurance. The Organization continued, through its fellowships programme, to provide opportunities for carefully selected health professionals to obtain the necessary skills to direct, guide and support health development in their countries, within the framework of careful human resources planning and clearly defined priorities.

At the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, March 1995), WHO advocated strengthening partnerships for health development and mobilizing the political commitment to view it in the context of economic and social development. The Organization directs action and resources towards countries rather than specific programmes, emphasizing the links between poverty and ill-health through its focus on intensified cooperation with countries and people most in need. This initiative has 28 participating countries, and WHO has cooperated with them in developing health policy, strengthening health systems and putting sustainable health financing schemes in place. In addition, the Organization works with other agencies and with donors to ensure a more focused and increased flow of funds and their more effective use by countries. It also supports countries in ensuring regular access to essential drugs.

WHO continued in 1995 to disseminate health information widely, in the shape of epidemiological and statistical data, reports, guidelines, training modules and periodicals. For this purpose, increasing use was made of informatics and telematics, including Internet.

With a view to improving coordination, WHO seeks collaboration with other intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations active in the health field. Within the framework of the United Nations system and its Administrative Committee on Coordination, an initiative for African economic recovery and development was launched, with health sector reform and disease control as one of its components. During 1995 WHO strengthened its collaboration with the World Bank and several regional development banks, the Organization for African Unity and the European Union.

During 1995 WHO was extremely active in the field of emergency relief, assisting in relief efforts in 55 Member States, conducting emergency preparedness activities in 10, and cooperating in safety promotion and injury control in 11.