Jacob Mufunda, WHO Representative WHO, Country Office, Zambia
The focus of this special issue of the Medical Journal of Zambia is to showcase the progress made by the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office for Zambia in domesticating the Transformation Agenda (TA) of the WHO Regional Office for Africa. This TA is the regional vision to fast track implementation of the global WHO reform. The introduction of this Transformation Agenda is timely and smoothly dovetails with the on going implementation of the national Zambia development transformation is a robust process that facilitates effective implementation of the Regional Agenda within WHO. The cardinal feature of the Transformation Agenda in the WHO is the leadership role at country level within the framework of the International Health Regulations
The discussion on the future financing of the WHO reform began with a year long consultative process that culminated in the discussion during the 128th Session of the Executive Board of 2011. The discussion initially focused on uncertainties in the sustainability of financing modalities for the WHO. Suggestions were considered on how the organization could be more effective and better support member states which were experiencing changing demographics and disease profiles including emergencies. The capacity of the WHO to respond to emergencies was tested by the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This largest and most complex outbreak in the history of the disease exposed frailties which are being addressed through the establishment of the health security and emergency cluster in WHO.
Transformation Agenda was introduced by the WHO Regional Director for the African Region in 2015. The four tenets of the strategy are being results oriented, accountable, having a smart focus and communicating effectively to internal and external customers.
One area of the reform which remains steadfast is the leadership role of the WHO in the health sector as buttressed by the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005. IHR is a legally binding international law administered by the WHO at all levels. It is operational in all 196 member state signatories compelling them to work together to save lives including at member states like Zambia.
The stated purpose and scope of the IHR are
"to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. The IHR also require States to strengthen core surveillance and response capacities at the primary, intermediate and national level, as well as at designated international ports, airports and ground crossings".
Member states are required to report any suspected public health event to the WHO to alert the institution which in turn shall put in place immediate response.