Introducing WHO in Viet Nam

Who are we?

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) was established on 7 April 1948 as the directing and coordinating authority in global public health within the United Nations system. Working at three levels in the Organization (global, regional and country), more than 7000 WHO staff worldwide collaborate with the governments of 194 Member States and other partners to achieve the WHO founding vision of the attainment of the highest possible level of health by all people.

The Western Pacific Region

The WHO Western Pacific Region is home to more than one quarter of the world’s population, stretching over more than one third of the distance around the globe. In all, more than 600 WHO staff work in 15 country offices and the Regional Office in Manila, Philippines, to support Member States in achieving better health outcomes for the Region’s nearly 1.9 billion people in 37 countries and areas.

WHO presence in Viet Nam

Viet Nam has been a WHO Member State since 17 May 1950. WHO was one of the first United Nations agencies to support the Vietnamese health sector directly since the end of the war and reunification of the country. WHO established a country office in Hanoi in 1977 and a sub-office in Ho Chi Minh City in 2003. More than 50 WHO staff in the country office have played a central role in supporting the people and the Government of Viet Nam to improve health.

WHO staff in Viet Nam
WHO\Yoshi Shimizu

WHO vision and mission

The founding vision of WHO is a world in which all people attain the highest possible standard of health and well-being. The WHO mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. WHO works with a commitment to human rights, universality and equity, based on the principles espoused in the WHO Constitution.

Core functions of WHO include: providing leadership on matters crucial to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed; shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge; setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation; articulating ethical and evidence- based policy options; providing technical support to catalyse changes; building sustainable institutional capacity; and monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.

The mission of WHO in Viet Nam is to support the Government to achieve universal health coverage with all people having access to high-quality health services, within the context of the country’s needs and challenges in transitioning to middle-income status.

In order to provide effective support, the WHO country office leverages the three levels of the Organization: to focus support where it can make a difference; to place the right people in the right places; to engage partners effectively; to enhance communications; and to improve operational intelligence.

Advantages of WHO

WHO’s unique status as a science- and evidence-based organization that sets globally applicable norms and standards makes it vital in a rapidly changing world. The Organization’s powerful voice for health and human rights is indispensable to ensure that no one is left behind.

With more than 40 years of cooperation with the Government of Viet Nam, WHO has a wealth of knowledge and experience working at all levels of the Vietnamese health system

WHO is the leading technical organization in health contributing to Viet Nam. The Organization’s support focuses on: developing policies, guidelines and regulations to improve the quality of health services and to strengthen the capacity of health workers and health systems; updating knowledge; piloting new models of health care; and facilitating access to health services.

In addition to providing expertise, skills and knowledge, WHO strategically coordinates its support with the country’s other development partners by participating in the Health Partnership Group (HPG) forum to ensure there is no overlap. WHO also manages to mobilize resources from other donors for the health sector and is therefore always a trusted partner in health care in Viet Nam.

The work of WHO in Viet Nam

WHO’s work in Viet Nam is based on the country’s need for support in implementing its national health policies, strategies and plans (NHPSP) to address key health issues and fulfil its commitment to the WHO Constitution and other international health laws and treaties. Global and regional priorities as well as joint priorities with the United Nations further guide the work of WHO in Viet Nam. Providing the overarching framework is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.

National health policies, strategies and plans of Viet Nam

All top-level decisions in the country come from the Communist Party of Viet Nam. In October 2017, the sixth plenary session of the 12th Party Central Committee adopted a new resolution on the protection, care and improvement of people’s health (No. 20-NQ/TW). It updated the previous resolution of the 7th Party Central Committee in 1992. Incorporating findings from a stock-take of the implementation of the 1992 resolution and an assessment of the current situation, the new resolution includes set viewpoints and objectives of national health policy as well as major tasks and specific targets to achieve by 2025 and 2030.

Priorities of WHO

WHO’s general programme of work (GPW) sets medium-term priorities and strategies of the Organization. The World Health Assembly in May 2018 is expected to approve the 13th general programme of work, covering the period 2019–2023. It encompasses a set of three interconnected strategic priorities, strategic shifts and organizational shifts as well as 10 outcomes to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The three strategic priorities are:

  • Universal health coverage: 1 billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage
  • Health emergencies: 1 billion more people better protected from health emergencies
  • Healthier populations: 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.

Priorities of the United Nations in Viet Nam

The Government of Viet Nam and the United Nations agencies, including WHO, adopted the Delivering as One principle and committed to the One United Nations initiative in Viet Nam in 2006. In July 2017, they jointly launched the One Strategic Plan 2017–2021, which identified focus areas and outcomes for the United Nations interventions in Viet Nam.