Dr Tedros: "We need more collaboration"

5 January, 2019

Dear HIFA colleagues,

I read this tweet this morning on the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health twitter handle. It links to a Q&A with Dr Tedros, Director-General of WHO. I reproduce liberally from the interview below, as it is so relevant to the HIFA remit.

"We can always do more, and we can always do better," says @DrTedros in his Q&A with @JohnsHopkinsIH chair David Peters. "We need more collaboration between universities, communities, health systems and practitioners to generate and share intelligence."


To complement what Dr Tedros says, I would add the question: "*How* can we promote more collaboration between universities, communities, health systems and practitioners to generate and share intelligence?" Part of the solution, I would suggest, is to promote and support virtual communities of practice such as HIFA.


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: There are several major organizational shifts I believe WHO needs to make to truly fulfil its mission and mandate. The first is that we must become much more focused on outcomes rather than simply outputs. WHO is known for the quality of its normative work, but there’s little value in publishing a guideline if nobody uses it. We need a much greater emphasis on making sure our world-class technical work is used at country level, and a much greater focus on measuring the impact of that work...

The global health architecture is very different now from what it was when WHO was founded 70 years ago, with many more actors with skills, experience, knowledge, networks and resources that WHO lacks. If we see this as a threat, it leads to territorialism and more silos. But if we see it as an opportunity, we can have a much greater impact than ever before. They key is to engage with partners proactively, harness everyone’s collective strength.

TAG: Knowledge management and knowledge dissemination are part of WHO’s core business. A lot of research around the world is done by individual institutions with a focus on specific diseases; WHO has a critical role in shaping the research agenda (often raising issues that are underrepresented in traditional research financing), assessing knowledge, and translating and disseminating that knowledge in a way that governments can use to develop and implement policies. We also provide direct technical assistance to governments, translating that body of evidence to make a difference on the ground.

Health equity research plays a fundamental role in documenting health inequities and supporting countries to measure and improve health equity. WHO’s role is to support health equity research that is relevant to governments’ priorities for health policy and health system strengthening. This work is led by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, an international partnership hosted by WHO...

TAG: It’s true that leveraging the strengths of civil society, the private sector, philanthropic foundations and academic institutions is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Governments, public institutions, the UN system and multilateral agencies simply don’t have all the needed skills, knowledge, expertise or resources...

WHO is an evidence-based institution that makes decisions according to what the science tells us.

WHO values the immense contribution of schools of public health to the education of global health advocates, leaders and practitioners, the generation of evidence, and collaborations to deliver innovative solutions for modern health challenges. But we can always do more, and we can always do better—we need more collaboration between universities, communities, health systems and practitioners to generate and share intelligence...

Collectively, we need to grow public health leaders with skills in policy analysis and advocacy, to ensure decision-makers have the tools to affect real change. We also need to work harder to establish the case for investment in human resources in every country to achieve UHC and the SDGs.

Public health professionals play a vital role in advocating for universal health coverage and the health systems that deliver it, and in strengthening countries’ capacities to respond to emergencies in a holistic and sustainable way. Just as capable health professionals are vital to the health of an individual, we need capable health managers, human resources scientists, planners and policy-makers to attend to the health of entire systems, all backed up by stronger evidence.

To have the greatest impact, those of us working in public health must stay aligned and consistent in our efforts to ensure the translation of knowledge into action.

We encourage universities to engage with the Global Health Workforce Network, which has established seven thematic “hubs” for sharing intelligence to take forward the actions of the 2016 Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health and the recommendations of the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. The hubs relate to gender equity, youth, education, data and evidence, health labor markets, community-based health workers and human resources leadership.


Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice


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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG /orcid.org/0000-0001-9557-1487 neil@hifa.org