WHO Strategy Should Be More Specific On How Agency Will Achieve Its Goals

The Lancet: Offline: WHO — a roadmap to renewal?
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet

“…Although the new [WHO General Programme of Work (GPW)] is underpinned by the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)], no convincing vision is offered about what sustainability truly means. … The ‘triple billion’ target [– one billion more people with health coverage, one billion more people made safer, and one billion more people whose lives are improved –] is the striking centerpiece of [WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’] vision. But the GPW is worryingly vague on how it will be achieved. On universal health coverage, no specific new initiatives are offered to accelerate progress. Big statements about mobilizing political will and increasing financing are made, but details about how these commitments will be fulfilled are absent. There is a promise that WHO’s performance ‘will be externally reviewed by an independent panel,’ but the precise mechanics are not explained. Will WHO’s new strategy mark an inflection point in the agency’s work and reputation? There are reasons to be hopeful — and the GPW will be strengthened through wide consultation — but there are also reasons to be anxious too. The risks of overpromising and underdelivering are great. And WHO cannot afford to fail again” (11/18).