Partner in global health
This content is last updated on 19 May 2022
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has long been a “force for good” in global health, fully committed to achieve SDG3: better health and well-being for all. The UK supports the World Health Organization and we work together to tackle some of the biggest health challenges problems of our time to make the world a safer and healthier place, including better pandemic preparedness and emergency response, building back resilient health systems and providing the highest quality technical advice to Member States. The UK recognises the unique convening and coordinating role fulfilled by the WHO, aware that no other organisation has the same range and comprehensive technical capabilities or geographic reach. The UK strongly supports WHO’s transformation to continue improving itself.
The UK’s global health leadership was prominent during 2020, including the hosting of the Gavi’s replenishment and the presentation of a Five-Point Plan for pandemics by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to use the opportunity of the UK’s G7 presidency in 2021 to work with global health partners on global health, and to implement the Five-Point Plan.
WHO thanks the British people for their generosity and unwavering support with knowledge, expertise and resources.
Through its Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the United Kingdom contributes to the Universal Health Coverage Partnership, which is one of WHO’s largest initiatives for international cooperation for universal health coverage and primary health care. It works in 115 countries, reinforcing the leadership of ministries of health in building resilient health systems based on primary health care approaches. The Partnership bridges the gap between global commitments and country action for universal health coverage by fostering policy dialogue on strategic planning and health systems governance, developing health financing strategies and supporting their implementation, and enabling effective development cooperation.
The United Kingdom’s contribution helps WHO respond to the evolving priorities and contexts in countries during the COVID-19 response will result in health system reforms that improve both health security and progress towards universal health coverage.
UK was 4th overall WHO donor and the number one Core Voluntary Contributions Account (CVCA) contributor in 2020-2021, with more than US$ 135 million.
On 26 September 2020, during his UNGA speech referenced above, the Prime Minister also announced a core voluntary contribution (CVC) in the amount of £340 million over four years to support the full range of WHO activities set out in the 13th General Programme of Work (GPW 13). This support came to add to the continued support that the UK provided to the COVID-19 response, of more than US$ 120 million to the strategic response preparedness plan. The UK also played a key role in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, including with targeted support for the global effort on the research and development of a vaccine (COVAX).
Note: The amounts represent the revenue received by WHO for the period stated and they might differ from the figures in the WHO Budget Portal, as they represent funds available net of programme support costs.
The UK is also a strong supporter of the Contingency Fund for Emergencies, which during 2020 continued to tend to the Ebola response in Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as other emergencies.
More about the current UK’s support to WHO in the programme budget portal.
The UK’s global health priorities include: ending the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting vaccine roll-outs; strengthening global health security through developing and driving the proposals in the Prime Minister’s five-point plan for future pandemic preparedness; reforming the global health architecture; and mitigating the indirect health impacts of COVID-19 and working towards the UK Government’s commitment of ending preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. Through its increased voluntary contribution to WHO, the UK hopes that investments in these areas are prioritized, leading to progress and achievements in the WHO’s respective program areas.
Emergency response and pandemic preparedness
The UK is a steadfast supporter of WHO’s work in emergencies. In 2020, this support translated into important funding of the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan and other critical work such as the ACT-accelerator, a groundbreaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. In September 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a significant additional investment in COVAX, the ACT-A vaccines pillar procurement pool, which included £500 million in aid funding for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, to help 92 of the world’s poorest countries access a coronavirus vaccine.
WHO and UK have joined forces to raise awareness of misinformation around COVID-19 and encourage individuals to report false or misleading content online.
This cooperation started with the joint Stop the Spread campaign in May-June 2020, through a partnership with the BBC, to encourage the use of trusted sources such as WHO and national health authorities for accurate COVID-19 information. The joint campaign broadened to include action on How to report misinformation online supporting actively WHO’s efforts to address the spread of inaccurate and harmful information during the pandemic; a campaign broadly supported by WHO’s corporate social media and engagement channels (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Viber, WhatsApp and YouTube).
The United Kingdom’s Fleming Fund has contributed more than US$ 17 million in a multi-year commitment to WHO to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR), caused by the misuse of antimicrobials in health or in the food chain. AMR compromises our ability to treat infectious diseases. The UK actively lobbies for international action on AMR, including collaborative leadership from the Tripartite on AMR: the WHO, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Significant successes in global collaboration include the establishment of the UN Inter-Agency Coordination Group on AMR and the launch of the Tripartite Joint Secretariat to implement their recommendations. The Tripartite also launched the Multi-Partner Trust Fund to take forward in-country action on AMR.
The United Kingdom supported WHO to strengthen Member State’s capacity to implement Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health guidelines, by facilitating the development of integrated national plans in line with Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030) and by developing and adapting operational guidance for humanitarian settings. The United Kingdom also launched a new aid programme, What Works to Prevent Violence: Impact at Scale, to help stop violence against one million of the world’s poorest women and girls. A landmark achievement was the reduction of infant, child, and maternal mortality during this period.
In June 2019 the United Kingdom’s government committed to spending its development assistance in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, as part of a wider government commitment to deliver net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
WHO made important progress in its work on reducing environmental threats to health and has supported Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal and United Republic of Tanzania to address climate change, water and health, with funding from the United Kingdom. In Ethiopia, climate resilient water safety plans were implemented in 31 water supply systems, covering more than 1 million people. WHO is now scaling up work in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique and Nepal to strengthen surveillance systems and develop early warning systems for cholera and other climate-sensitive diseases.
WHO’s High Burden to High Impact response is consistent with the United Kingdom’s focus on making impact in high burden countries, guided by the strategic use of evidence to achieve value for money and enabled by good development practice. Success will rely on political will, strategic information, better guidance and strategies, and coordination.
The goal of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is to complete the eradication and containment of all wild, vaccine-related and Sabin polioviruses, such that no child ever again suffers paralytic poliomyelitis. In November 2019 the United Kingdom Government confirmed its commitment to eradicating polio by pledging a £400 million contribution for the next four years to help vaccinate more than 400 million children a year.
During the 2019 World Health Summit, a call was made to finish the job of eradicating polio and support countries to develop transition plans so that functions previously supported by the Initiative are integrated into national health programmes. Efforts are underway to embed polio activities within the broader immunization and comprehensive surveillance functions and outbreak and emergency response. Sustainable transition strategies are included the “Immunization Agenda 2030” for the next decade.
Regular performance reviews build investment confidence in WHO, as the guardian of global public health. The United Kingdom supports the WHO transformation agenda and invests in WHO’s Organizational capacity. Consistent and routine evaluations have led to Organizational learning being firmly anchored in WHO’s work – helping improve its performance. WHO also developed new ways to engage relationships and build partnerships with governments, civil society or multilateral organizations – to expand its reach and achieve its goals. Strengthening WHO’s commitment to transparency, accountability and compliance will enable WHO to fulfill its mission, manage its resources, and deliver value for money.
WHO Collaborating Centres in the United Kingdom
The UK hosts 60 WHO collaborating centres, institutions such as research institutes, universities or academies, which are designated by the Director-General to carry out activities in support of the Organization’s programmes.
Among them are top global institutions that share data and lend their expertise to WHO in areas such as nursing, occupational health, communicable diseases, nutrition, mental health, chronic diseases and health technologies.
Public Health England (PHE) is a strong partner, with nine collaborating centres, in the areas of global health security, mass gatherings, antimicrobial resistance research, special pathogens, chemical exposures, radiation protection, and nursing and midwifery.
We are deeply grateful to you @BorisJohnson, your government & the people of the 🇬🇧 for your bold commitment to global health and @WHO. We welcome your contribution of £340 million over the next 4 years. It will make WHO stronger to tackle future health threats. #UNGA
.@WHO also welcomes 🇬🇧's contribution of £500 million to the COVAX initiative, helping developing countries to access a #COVID19 vaccine.
We thank the 🇬🇧 for putting global health security at heart of the @g7 presidency next year. Together! #UNGAhttps://t.co/IeRkjUfZCb