Looking ahead, I see WHO as a magnet that attracts talented people, builds their skills over time and deploys them in ways in which they can be most effective. This is increasingly being achieved through skillful, empowered and accountable managers at all levels of the organization. I see WHO as an organization that increasingly manages scarce funds creatively, transparently and with clear lines of accountability. I would also like to see these features of the organization better advanced, appreciated and understood - within and outside WHO.
All multilateral organizations need constant transformation to ensure that their systems, priorities and processes are responsive to the changing political, technological, environmental, social, cultural and economic contexts of people’s lives. I expect WHO to remain an active player in the transformation of the wider UN system in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, seeking ways to ensure the relevance of individual agencies as well as coherence of international systems as a whole.
There will be times when substantive transformation is needed to tune up a particular aspect of an organization’s performance. This occurred during the 2014 – 15 Ebola outbreak. WHO has been affected by the criticisms it received in relation to handling complex disease outbreaks. The flexibility and willingness of professionals inside and outside WHO - adjusting effectively to new ways of working - has shown that WHO can function as an organic and adaptable entity.
Member States will continue to debate ways in which the governance undertaken by the Executive Board and the World Health Assembly enables the Secretariat to be more effective and contributes to the global influence of the WHO as a whole. There will remain the constant challenge of aligning finance to desired outcomes. This will include ensuring that any tradeoffs in ways resources are allocated reflect the interests of people who are at risk of ill health and for whom illness has the greatest consequences.
The Director General is expected to steer the process of transformation, to affirm priorities and to encourage partnering when this can be helpful. When Director General I will encourage WHO personnel to develop the collective capabilities and confidence they need to see their Organization as a technical leader that contributes to better lives for everyone. WHO is now moving in the right direction: the challenge is to help all who are within or associated with it to recognize the contributions they make. They should come to appreciate that although these contributions are never as great as they would wish, they should be confident that they are organizing and partnering in ways that have substantial impact for people in many different places. Through their inspiration and example, I expect that WHO senior managers will continue to lead the process of transformation, and be partners with the Director General in achieving even more.