World Health Organization (WHO)

World Health Organization (WHO) is the authority responsible for public health within the United Nations system. Established in 1948, WHO is responsible for providing leadership on global health issues, setting norms and standards and providing technical support and policy advice to countries in matters of public health.

WHO presence in Serbia was established in June 1992 with a humanitarian assistance office in Belgrade, launched for the purpose of providing public health advice to United Nations agencies and humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. In October 2002, a formal agreement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and WHO transformed the office into a full WHO Country Office which is the focal point for all WHO activities in Serbia.

One of WHO’s main functions is to direct and coordinate the work in the area of health by promoting collaboration, mobilizing partnerships and galvanizing the efforts of various health actors to respond to national health challenges. To support national governments in achieving better health outcomes for their population, WHO promotes the whole-of-government approach by working across sectors of government in promoting a multisectoral response to health challenges as well as working with a broad range of development partners, including bilateral and multilateral agencies, the United Nations system as well as nongovernmental and civil society organizations.

WHO’s main partner at the country level is the Ministry of Health but in recent years WHO has been increasingly engaging with other sectors of the government either directly or by leveraging the expertise and established relationships with other United Nations agencies. WHO Country Office actively supports the Ministry of Health by engaging in developing and implementing national health policies, strategies and plans; coordinating government bodies across health and other sectors; facilitating policy dialogues on health, supporting health system strengthening and strategically mobilizing resources for health.

The priorities of the Country Office are set out in the Biennial Collaborative Agreement (BCA) between WHO and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia. The Country Office implements the Agreement in close collaboration with national institutions and international partner agencies. The aim of the Agreement is to maximize opportunities for promoting population health and reducing health inequities in line with the European policy framework for health and well-being, Health 2020, and with the Sustainable Development Goals.

WHO Director-General has designated three WHO Collaborating Centres in Serbia that form an international collaborative network carrying out activities to support WHO programmes at all levels:

  • City of Belgrade Institute of Public Health as WHO Collaborating Centre for Injury and Violence Prevention
  • Institute for Mental Health as WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Workforce Development
  • Institute for Occupational Health as WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health

These three centres provide valuable operational and technical expertise and contribute to the implementation of WHO programmes and activities at country level.