The World Health Organization

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Key player in global immunisation and founding member of the Vaccine Alliance


Chris Black YW4T2421 WHOThe World Health Organization (WHO), as one of the founding members of Gavi and the UN's specialist agency providing leadership on global health issues, is a key policy influence and implementing partner.

WHO is one of four permanent members of the Gavi Board.

WHO headquarters support

The UN agency's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, based at WHO headquarters in Geneva, 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 that Gavi supports.

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.

As a co-founder of Gavi, WHO is present at every stage of the global effort to ensure universal access to vaccines for people in all communities. 

Margaret Chan, Director General, WHO

Since the Vaccine Alliance was founded in 2000, many more countries have followed WHO recommendations in introducing hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines as part of the pentavalent vaccine and, more recently, pneumococcal, rotavirus and human papillomavirus 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 Vaccine Alliance depends on collaboration with WHO's six regional offices and country offices present in all countries that 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.

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

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

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