[Ip-health] MSF intervention on WHO reform at WHO EB

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Wed Jan 18 07:38:30 PST 2012

Médecins Sans Frontières intervention on WHO reform at the 130th WHO
Executive Board meeting

WHO 130th Executive Board Agenda Item 5: WHO Reform

Intervention by Michelle Childs, Médecins Sans Frontières

MSF welcomes effort to improve the functioning of WHO and considers the
following to be its core functions:

   1. Acting “as the directing and coordinating authority on international
   health work” and its governance, providing leadership on matters critical
   to health and health security;
   2. Setting norms and standards, and articulating policy options in a
   manner that is evidence-based and independent of conflicts of interest;
   3. Supporting countries through catalysing change, providing technical
   support; and holding them to account on the implementation of guidelines,
   norms and standards, and ensuring that health is protected in trade and
   other agreements;
   4. Stimulating priority medical research and ensuring broad access to
   the fruits of research.

We welcome the proposal to review stakeholder relations, but note there are
no timelines for delivery. We support the immediate review of the
accreditation process and for measures to distinguish between NGOs and

However, we are concerned that even before the main programme of reform has
been agreed, fundamental changes to core departments are afoot. These
changes are potentially irreversible, with the loss of skilled and
experienced staff and WHO leadership.

This situation is exemplified by the situation of the Essential Medicines
Department, normally a WHO flagship. Although the previous director’s
retirement in May 2011 was known in advance, the position was only opened
months later and interviews have not started.

Regular and unspecified contributions to EMP have decreased to under 15%
with an increasing dependence on specified funds - already at 70% in
2008-2009 - and on philanthropy.  As a result many areas of work have
languished, including technical support to countries. The work of several
expert committees is not secured.

We call on the Member States to ensure that the core areas of normative
work are strengthened, not weakened and their independence protected
through the process of reform. Adequate, regular budget support must be
secured for the aforementioned core functions.

Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: @joanna_keenan


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