Programas & Clusters

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Communicable Diseases Cluster



WHO is at the forefront of supporting countries to tackle diseases which are major contributors to disease burden in the region, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases. The cluster also oversees work on health and the environment.

The vision of this cluster is an African Region with affordable and equitable access to quality prevention, treatment and care services to free it of the burden of communicable diseases.

Director Programme Management




Four technical clusters namely Family Health, Health Systems, Communicable Diseases and Noncommunicable Diseases fall under programme management.

In addition two cross cutting programmes, Health Promotion and Social and Economic Determinants; and Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation report directly to Programme Management.

Family and Reproductive Health

WHO promotes the continuum of care spanning from pregnancy and childbirth, to childhood, adolescence and beyond.

The vision of this cluster, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, is to support countries to end preventable maternal and child death and control vaccine preventable diseases; improve nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, gender, equity and human rights, and promote healthy ageing. Its mission is to promote health through the life cycle.The cluster addresses Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition; Immunization and Vaccine Development; and Reproductive and Women’s Health.

Its priorities are to:

  • To improve the availability, accessibility and utilization of quality health care services along the life cycle
  • Ensure achievement of universal immunization coverage within the WHO African Region
  • Ensure accountability, measurement and tracking mechanisms for reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health, and immunization
  • Reduce maternal, neonatal and under five mortality by 50% by 2020 in the African Region
  • Achieve elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV by 2030
  • Improve adolescent health and development
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health

The Addis Declaration on Immunization
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General Management and Coordination


This cluster strives to ensure the optimal use and rational management of the organization’s financial, technical and human resources, to promote excellence to achieve high levels of performance and deliver the highest quality services in an environment that actively encourages staff members to learn, grow and develop their skills.

It encompasses Accounts and Financial Management which supports technical units at the Regional Office, Country Offices and Intercountry Support teams; Administrative Services; Compliance; Field Security; Human Resources Management; Information Technology Management to provide secure and reliable information and communications technology services to all staff and users in the Region; Procurement and Supplies Services; and Translation, Interpretation and Printing which facilitates communication and flow of ideas among Member States of the WHO African Region to inform decision-making.

Health Systems and Services



The mission of the Health Systems and Services Cluster is to support member states to build robust, resilient and responsive health systems and services that can sustain equitable delivery of integrated packages of essential services of good quality, that enable vital access for all individuals, communities and populations.

A strong focus is on supporting countries to attain universal health coverage, defined as when the whole population has access to quality health services without enduring undue financial hardship.

Divisions include Health Information and Knowledge Management; Health Policies, Strategies and Governance; Health Technologies and Innovations; and Service Delivery Systems.

Areas of work include blood safety, essential medicines, health financing, health systems and services, health workforce, laboratories and health technology, and research, publications and library services.

Noncommunicable diseases




Many noncommunicable diseases have a long duration and slow progression, and collectively are responsible for nearly 70% of deaths worldwide. The cluster’s vision is to have a world free of the avoidable burden of noncommunicable diseases. Its mission is to reduce the preventable and avoidable burden of morbidity, mortality and disability due to noncommunicable diseases through multisector collaboration, in support of the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Noncommunicable Diseases Cluster is organized under two umbrellas of work: Noncommunicable Diseases Integrated Management, which covers cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obstructive lung diseases, mental health and substance abuse; and Noncommunicable Diseases Primary Prevention, which focuses on reduction of risk factors and determinants, including tobacco control, the harmful use of alcohol, violence, injuries and disabilities. Health promotion is a core area and includes healthy diet and active living and working.

Priorities are to:

  • increase the importance accorded to noncommunicable diseases in development work;
  • establish and strengthen multisectoral policies;
  • reduce the four main risk factors for non-communicable diseases;
  • orient health systems to noncommunicable disease prevention and control through the primary health care approach;
  • promote research, monitor noncommunicable diseases and evaluate progress; and
  • promote effective noncommunicable disease partnerships.

Office of the Regional Director


The Office of the Regional Director (ORD) supports the Regional Director in the efficient delivery of her mandate and in providing leadership and vision for the organization. The Office coordinates the Regional Director's regular liaison and collaboration with countries, the United Nations system, development partners, donors and other stakeholders. It is also responsible for gathering and synthesizing relevant policy-related information for the Regional Director's decisions. It is intricately linked with the various clusters within the WHO Regional Office, country offices and inter-country support teams, giving leadership and policy guidance to their work.

The ORD drives the Regional Director’s Transformation Agenda - a strategy for change to enhance the performance of the WHO Secretariat as it supports Member States towards improved health outcomes. It is also the vehicle for accelerating WHO’s global reforms. There are four focus areas of change: pro-results values; smart technical focus; responsive strategic operations; and effective communications and partnerships.

Units include Country and Inter-country Support; External Relations, Partnerships and Governing Bodies; the Ombudsman; Communications; and the Polio Eradication Programme which, with significant funding, is working to eradicate polio in the African Region.

WHO Health Emergencies Programme


In the African Region, more than 100 major public health emergencies are reported annually, affecting millions of people. To meet the immediate health needs of crisis-affected populations while simultaneously addressing the underlying causes of their vulnerability, WHO must be part of a broader change in the way the international community prevents, prepares for and responds to public health emergencies.
The WHO Health Emergencies Programme, approved by Member States at the sixty-ninth World Health Assembly in May 2016, streamlines the WHO emergency response efforts via the formation of a single programme with one workforce, one budget, one line of accountability, one set of processes and systems and one set of benchmarks. The programme brings together the expertise and resources of the previously separate programmes on outbreaks and humanitarian crises. This is an important step towards becoming an emergency operations agency to complement the WHO technical and normative roles. The new programme is designed to bring speed and predictability to the WHO emergency work by using a single-incident management system, an all-hazards approach, promoting collective action and encompassing all stages of the emergency cycle from preparedness to recovery.  

Functions & structure
WHO is committed to saving lives and reducing suffering during times of crisis – whether caused by conflict, disease outbreaks or disasters. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme works with countries and partners to prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from all hazards that create health emergencies, including disasters (natural or human-made), disease outbreaks and conflicts. The programme leads and coordinates the international health response to contain disease outbreaks and provide effective relief and recovery to affected people. We acknowledge that health must be seen from a wider perspective and are committed to building and applying a One Health Approach in all areas of our work on outbreaks. 
The programme has a common structure across the organization (in country offices, regional offices and headquarters), reflecting WHO’s major functions and responsibilities in health emergency risk assessment and management, delivered through five technical and operational programme areas:   

An Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee was established in March 2016 to monitor the development and performance of the programme, guide its activities and report on its progress.

No organization can act alone in emergencies. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme works with its partners to protect and save people’s lives in all health emergencies. During a crisis, WHO works with the local ministries of health and partners to identify where health needs are greatest and to coordinate the efforts of partner organizations to ensure that these areas are covered by both medical supplies and personnel. WHO regularly collaborates with partner networks to leverage and coordinate the expertise of hundreds of partner agencies, including the:

  • Global Health Cluster – More than 300 partners responding in 24 crisis-affected countries.
  • Emergency Medical Teams – More than 60 teams from 25 countries classified by WHO to provide clinical care in the wake of emergencies, with the number expected to rise to 200 soon.
  • Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) – Since 2000, approximately 2,500 health personnel in response to over 130 public health emergencies in 80 countries.
  • Standby partners – In 2015, WHO Standby Partners deployed 207 months of personnel support to 18 countries.
  • Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) – WHO is an active member of IASC, the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination relating to humanitarian assistance in response to complex and major emergencies under the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator.


Adequate financing is a prerequisite for the success of all aspects of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, including its work to support the strengthening of member state preparedness. The financial viability and sustainability of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme requires a combination of core financing for the WHO standing emergency risk management capacity and normative work, a contingency fund for rapidly initiating and enabling new emergency response operations and an ongoing appeal and pledging process to support major ongoing operations, particularly protracted crises, guided by humanitarian response plans.

Further information
For further information, please visit WHO in emergencies.