The World Health Organization

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Key player in global immunisation and co-founder of the GAVI Alliance


Chris Black YW4T2421 WHOThe World Health Organization (WHO), as a co-founder of the GAVI Alliance and the UN's specialist agency providing leadership on global health issues, is a key policy influence and implementing partner.

WHO headquarters support

Partnership with GAVI complements WHO's role as a key player in global immunisation.

The UN agency's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, based at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, supports and facilitates research and development, sets standards and regulates vaccine quality and develops evidence-based policy options to guide vaccine use and maximise country access. 

As such, WHO sets down technical specifications for vaccines and prequalifies all vaccines employed in GAVI-supported programmes.

GAVI and its partners are guided by the recommendations of WHO's Vaccine Advisory Committee, vaccine position papers and the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (IPAC), set up in 2010 with many GAVI partners as members. IPAC advises on immunisation practices, operational standards, tools and technologies.

With support from GAVI, childhood immunisation coverage reached record levels, and deaths among young children dropped below the 10 million mark for the first time in at least six decades.

Margaret Chan, Director General,  WHO (2009)

Since the Alliance was founded in 2000, many more countries have followed WHO recommendations in introducing hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines and, more recently, the pneumococcal vaccine.

Through WHO participation in the Accelerated Vaccine Introduction initiative (AVI) promoting faster delivery of new vaccines, GAVI benefits from WHO input on issues ranging from cold chain and vaccine management, to training and post-introduction analysis of vaccines.

Regional/country office support

In the field, the Alliance particularly depends on collaboration with WHO's six regional offices and country offices present in all countries eligible to receive GAVI support: 

  • Regional working groups coordinate support for country programmes working through a core group of partners usually led by WHO and UNICEF;
  • WHO country offices work closely with national health authorities and their partner organisations in identifying national health priorities, formulating policy and supporting immunisation and health system development.

Role on the GAVI Alliance Board

WHO is one of four renewable members of the Alliance Board and alternate chairman with UNICEF of its Executive Committee. It is a member of the management team of the Accelerated Vaccine Introduction (AVI) and participates in a range of other committees guiding Alliance activities.

WHO offices also assist country health authorities in drafting applications for GAVI support and drawing up a plan of action for deploying vaccines.

In addition, WHO staff provide technical support to implementing immunisation programmes, including storing and logistics, as well as undertaking post-introduction monitoring and evaluation of vaccines and equipment.

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