Improving primary healthcare is central to efforts to improve health equity, since in many low- and middle-income countries the only health services available are delivered through primary care, including community outreach. This is particularly true for efforts to achieve gender equity in health or to improve maternal and child health.
WHO Foundation Strategy 2023-2025
Together, we have so much to achieve
A world in which all people attain the highest possible level of health.
Mission: Health for all
Everyone has the right to live a happy, healthy and prosperous life. Health is both a human right and a critical contribution to societal well being, economic growth and peace.
But access to health is not equitable.
The WHO Foundation exists to support the World Health Organization (WHO) to achieve its vision of a world in which all people attain the highest level of health, and its mission is to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. It does so by partnering with diverse actors, including businesses, philanthropists, and the general public.
The WHO Foundation Strategy 2023-2025 outlines how the Foundation will support WHO’s General Programme of Work in critical areas that are ripe for innovation and are potential positive catalysts for improved global health.
By marshaling new resources from philanthropists, businesses, and individuals, and working in tandem with WHO, the Foundation is committed to:
- Facilitating connections between its key stakeholders and the high-impact, lifesaving programs of WHO and its partners
- Acting as a catalyst — enabling philanthropists, businesses, and the general public to have a positive impact on public health through the convening power of WHO
- Leveraging WHO’s brand and expertise, translating technical data into human stories, engaging meaningfully with the private sector, and promoting opportunities to benefit communities in need.
Investing in health
WHO plays a singular role in health worldwide, with unparalleled impact. It employs 8,000 professionals in 150 locations.
WHO seeks to achieve its vision and mission by:
- Guiding medical research and health policy
- Driving the development of scientific guidelines to prevent and treat disease
- Certifying the safety and efficacy of associated products
- Serving as a first responder to health outbreaks and crises; and uniquely influencing the health departments of 194 national governments.
Global healthcare needs are greater than ever.
- 5 million children die each year from health conditions that are preventable and treatable.
- 2 billion people lack access to essential medicines.
- In 2022,160 million people faced health emergencies due to conflict, natural disasters, and climate change.
- Growing health challenges include existing diseases, new pathogens, the effects of climate change, acute and protracted crises, and disparities in equitable access to health. Each calls for a historic response that no nation, organization or company alone can provide.
Across the world, people who are less prosperous have a far higher burden of disease. The difference in life expectancy is stark: 65.1 years in lower income countries compared to 80.9 years in higher income countries in 2019. Under-5 mortality is 14 times higher in Africa than in Europe. Low-income countries account for more than nine out of 10 maternal deaths worldwide.
More than a million lives might have been saved if COVID-19 vaccines had been distributed more equitably with lower-income countries in 2021. The pandemic also illustrates the compounding effects of generations of inequity: populations who have historically experienced discrimination were more likely to experience severe morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19 infection.
Investment in health offers a uniquely high return — in bolstering human potential and in its contribution to economic and social life.
WHO’s own investment case argues that investment in health has wider economic benefits, with a return of at least US$ 35 for every US$ 1 invested.
As global health security is key to economic prosperity, a fully-financed WHO is in the interest of the world. This is the gap the WHO Foundation aims to fill — to support the delivery of WHO’s resource mobilization strategy through new sources of capital and new ways of working.
WHO remains underfunded
WHO’s estimated budget needs for the period until 2031 is US$ 33 billion. Yet only 16% of WHO’s budget needs will be met by predictable funding.
Despite pledges from member states to increase their contributions in the next decade, there remains a critical gap and a lack of funding flexibility.
Innovation and leverage
Strategic objectives 2023-2025
The WHO Foundation shaped its strategic objectives following extensive consultations with leaders in global health, philanthropy, and civil society organizations together with advice from a 33-member-strong advisory group. The strategic objectives consciously build on lessons from other organizations working in global health.
Identify and incubate high impact opportunities in global health
Following a strategic diagnostic process, the Foundation identified needs and gaps in WHO’s programs and budgets, and solutions to address needs in global health across key thematic areas.
Climate change is widely expected to worsen disease outcomes and exacerbate existing health inequalities. The WHO Foundation will work with WHO to support the greening of the health sector (by supporting efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by the health sector industry), to build climate-resilient health systems and to promote healthy living in cities and beyond.
Digital tools and systems can speed up diagnosis and treatment, accelerate the dissemination of health guidelines and help to identify and correct inaccurate health information. The Foundation will work with WHO to identify digital health investment opportunities that can offer people greater access to, and utilization of, health services.
Investments will strengthen WHO’s emergency readiness and response to a growing number of health emergencies worldwide. Priorities for preparedness include workforce training, improved medical supply chains, surveillance and communication systems. Targeted campaigns will rapidly mobilize funds to support WHO’s response on the ground in the event of a health crisis or disease outbreak.
The WHO Foundation has an ambition to examine the structural and systemic causes of global health inequities, and help strengthen WHO’s health equity work. Based on an understanding of how unjust power systems and systemic oppression affects the achievement of health equity, the Foundation will guide its investments to contribute to overcome these challenges.
Mental health support is underfunded globally. The WHO Foundation will promote mental health as both a dedicated portfolio of work and a cross-cutting theme. Investment opportunities may include mental health in the workplace and using sport to promote mental health, building on and extending existing WHO interventions and partnerships.
Investment Prioritization Criteria
In prioritizing investment opportunities the Foundation looks at the following three criteria.
Represents the overall impact potential of the investment opportunity
Represents the feasibility for the Foundation and WHO to execute
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Opportunity Partnership Size — US$
Represents the expected financial size of the investment opportunity
Opportunity Partnership Size
How the WHO Foundation Will Support WHO’s Triple Billion Targets
Mobilize and steward resources to power those opportunities
The Foundation will always seek to secure the most flexible and unrestricted funding for WHO and its other implementing partners, allowing them to adjust and pivot as needed in response to changing global health needs. The Foundation aims to mobilize high-quality, flexible and long-term funding for its core thematic areas.
Funding will be aligned with the principles of the WHO Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA). Consistent with FENSA exclusions, the Foundation does not receive funds from entities that form part of, or are controlled by, the tobacco or arms industries. Any proposed funding to the Foundation is governed by the WHO Foundation Gift Acceptance Policy.
Philanthropists of the 21st century want to experience meaningful engagement with their endeavors. The Foundation provides opportunities to co-create, learn from, and deeply engage in collaborations with WHO to facilitate long-term engagement, advocacy potential and future investment.
The WHO Foundation engages the business sector to co-create and innovate. This includes opportunities to engage with WHO and its programs, and ways to partner, such as in the Health Emergencies Alliance. Developing effective partnerships, building trust, and retaining donors is a priority for the Foundation.
It is crucial for people to engage with accurate and time-sensitive health-related information, and to give them easy ways to make financial contributions to health initiatives of global concern.
By successfully engaging with the general public, the WHO Foundation will raise funds and awareness of WHO’s work.
Advocate for WHO, and broker connections and relationships to support WHO and the global health ecosystem.
The WHO Foundation will act as ambassador, convener, broker, and catalyst in bringing together stakeholders from business, philanthropy, and the public, to create communities, synergies, and long-term partnerships in support of WHO’s mission. As ambassador for WHO, the Foundation will help strengthen WHO’s brand, highlighting its critical role, its contribution to the global health ecosystem, and its impact on widening access for the people who most need it to achieve better health outcomes.
Political and public support for WHO
The success of the WHO Foundation depends on political support for WHO, and respect for its role within the global health ecosystem. As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, health matters can be deeply polarizing, which can harm public support.
Public trust in WHO is critical to successful stakeholder engagement and resource mobilization.
The Foundation will act as an ambassador for WHO within the business community, among philanthropists, and the general public.
Efficient and transparent collaboration between WHO, the Foundation and all partners.
The relationship between WHO and the WHO Foundation is governed by a joint Affiliation Agreement that protects WHO’s independence and integrity, and enables the Foundation’s work. The Foundation’s engagement with WHO is underpinned by the desire to be open to new ways of thinking and a firm commitment to communicate the results of their work.
Effective and agile WHO Foundation
The WHO Foundation strives to be a lean, efficient, and impact-oriented organization. Its success will depend on effective and agile leadership, recruiting a diverse and forward-thinking team, and operationalizing fit-for-purpose policies, procedures, and systems.
The Foundation will continue to be governed by a diverse Executive Board of leading professionals with experience in global health, philanthropy, resource mobilization, the private sector, entrepreneurship, and academia.
WHO Foundation initiatives
for greater equity in health
The Foundation supports WHO’s emergency health appeals with public-facing fundraising campaigns. Online giving via dedicated websites ensures that people can donate from all over the world; receive updates on their donation and find out more about the work of WHO and the impact of their gift.
The Health Emergencies Alliance is a new membership community designed to help WHO to work with countries and partners to prepare for, rapidly detect, respond to, and recover from, health emergencies. By committing a minimum of USD 200 000 per year over a three-year period, business and private sector partners can strengthen WHO and contribute to the Foundation goal of raising USD 100 million to support the WHO Health Emergency Appeal. Members’ annual contributions will help to provide reliable funding for the growing number of global health emergencies.
Strengthening health systems calls for significant investment from enlightened investors. The Global Health Equity Fund is a unique USD 200 million impact venture capital investment fund launched by Our Crowd. It focusses on breakthrough technology solutions that contribute to the goal of greater health equity.
An Access Pledge, developed by the WHO Foundation, is aligned with this fund. It encourages portfolio companies to make their technology available in low- and middle-income settings.
The Foundation has negotiated for WHO to receive a meaningful share of the Fund’s profit as unrestricted funding, potentially an additional 30-50 million dollars.
The campaign has been designed to help distribute COVID-19 vaccines more equitably. Individuals across the world are able to donate the cost of a vaccine to help everyone, everywhere gain protection against COVID-19. In its first year of operation the Go Give One campaign had raised more than US$10 million for the Gavi COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC), which was tasked with procuring and delivering vaccines to lower-income countries.
The COVID-19 Solidarity Response raised more than US$ 256,000 from more than 676,500 donors to fund WHO’s COVID-19 emergency work. This rapid response fund benefitted from active collaboration with a global network of fiduciary partners. It was powered by the UN Foundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation from March 2020 until March 2021 and by the WHO Foundation until its closure in December 2021.
Learn more about
WHO Foundation initiatives
We have to create a healthier, more equitable future for everyone. By investing in 8 billion lives and by using a flexible, innovative, partnership-driven approach, our goal is to overcome the health challenges of today and ensure healthy lives tomorrow.
Prof. Dr. Thomas zeltner, founder and chair of the board
The WHO Foundation is extremely grateful for the time and commitment of WHO teams in its national, regional and global offices, who engaged in critical discussions to shape the WHO Foundation’s inaugural strategy.
Heartfelt thanks to the members of the 70+ civil society organizations who contributed valuable insights during online consultations, and to the experts from a number of global institutions who joined the WHO Foundation Strategic Advisory Group.
The advice provided by all contributors has been instrumental in shaping the Foundation’s ambitions for the duration of this strategy. The WHO Foundation is deeply committed to deliver on its promise of transparency and to remain accountable for the successful delivery of the strategy.