The main international organization that the Republic of Azerbaijan cooperates in the health sphere is the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO was established on 7 April, 1948. WHO is the coordinating authority on international health issues within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts prepare health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research.
WHO has 194 member-states. The main bodies of the Organization are the World Health Assembly, Executive Board and Secretariat. The Organization is headed by the Director-General, who has been appointed by the Assembly nominated by Executive Board. Currently, the Director-General of WHO is Margaret Chan (since 2006) representing the People’s Republic of China. The Headquarters of WHO is located at Geneva.
WHO cooperates with member-states through its regional offices. Organization has 6 regional offices:
• Regional office for Africa – headquarters is in Brazzaville (Congo);
• Regional office for Europe – headquarters is in Copenhagen (Denmark);
• Regional office for South-Eastern Asia – headquarters is in New Dehli (India);
• Regional office for Americas – headquarters is in Washington (USA);
• Regional office for Eastern Mediterranean region – headquarters is in Cairo (Egypt);
• Regional office for Western Pacific Region – headquarters is in Manila (Philippines).
The Republic of Azerbaijan became a member of WHO on October 2, 1992. The Republic of Azerbaijan cooperates with WHO through the Organization’s Headquarters and Regional office for Europe. At the same time, there is an office of WHO in our country.
The Republic of Azerbaijan has very close mutual relations with WHO. So, the relevant delegations of the Republic of Azerbaijan are participating at the sessions of the World Health Assembly, Executive Board and Regional Office for Europe, as well as at the other meetings within WHO during the year. Moreover, the representatives of WHO have visited Azerbaijan in different years.
During the years 2000 and 2004 Mr. Marc Danson, Director of the European Regional Office has visited Azerbaijan.
On May 16-25, 2005, during the 58th World Health Assembly held on 16-25 May, 2005, the Republic of Azerbaijan was elected to the Executive Board of the Organization from European countries for the period of 2005-2008. 32 states from 192 WHO member-states were elected to the Executive Board.
On 25-26 April 2006, the Director-General of WHO Dr. Lee Jong-wook has made an official visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan. Dr. Lee Jong-wook was received by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and participated at the meetings held in the Cabinet of Ministers, Ministry of Health, as well as Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The visit was mainly focused on the issues such as fighting against avian influenza and tuberculosis, increasing the role of persons with hearing disabilities in the society, the cooperation with WHO, prevention starvation and poverty, as well as reforms in health sector.
The Delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan headed by Mr. O.Shiraliyev, Minister of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan has participated at the 119th session of WHO Executive Board held on 6-8 November 2006 in Geneva and at the First Extraordinary meeting of World Health Assembly on 9 November 2006 in Geneva. As a result of the meetings representative of the People’s Republic of China Dr. Margaret Chan was elected as the Director-General of WHO.
On January 30 and February 1 of 2008 Dr. Margaret Chan has made a visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The 61st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe held on 12-15 September 2011 in Baku with participation of more than 50 health ministers of the countries of European region is an important pattern of co-operation of the Republic of Azerbaijan with the WHO. During the meeting discussions were conducted about the several global health challenges, the new European health policy document “Health 2020” was adopted, as well as the discussions were conducted and a number of decisions were taken about the strategy documents on strategic directions of health in XXI century, the social impact of health at the global level, the strengthening of health system in WHO European region, and strategy document on fighting against non-communicable deceases. The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev attended the meeting.
The 3rd meeting of European Environment and Health Ministerial Board with the co-organization of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan and WHO was held on 16 November 2012 in Baku. The Director of WHO Regional Office for Europe Ms. Zsuzsanna Jakab and Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources delivered a speech at the meeting. Furthermore, during the meeting Mrs. Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation informed the guests about the project “IDEA” (“International Dialogue for Environmental Action”) initiated by her in 2011.
The 66th session of World Health Assembly and the 133rd session of Executive Board were held on 20-28 May 2013 and 29-30 May 2013 respectively. The Azerbaijani side has been represented at the above-mentioned meetings with the Delegation headed by Mr. O.Shiraliyev, Minister of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan. During the meeting of Executive Board Mr. O.Shiraliyev has been elected as the Vice-Chair of the Board.
The 134th and 135th sessions of Executive Board and 67th session of World Health Assembly were held on 20-25 January 2014, 26-27 May 2014 and 19-24 May 2014 respectively. The Azerbaijani side has been represented at the above-mentioned meetings with the Delegation headed by Mr. O.Shiraliyev, Minister of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
At the World Health Assembly and WHO Executive Board sessions our country is constantly represented at the high level - with the Delegation headed by the Minister of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Within the framework of those sessions, along with multilateral negotiations Azerbaijan Delegation holds bilateral meetings with the heads of health authorities of different states, with Ms.M.Chan, the Director-General of WHO, Ms. Zsuzsanna Jakab, the Director of WHO Regional Office for Europe, as well as with a number of officials of WHO. The broadening of cooperation in the field of health, improvement of health system, financing of health and health related issues are being discussed during these bilateral meetings.
The constantly election of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the WHO bodies is one of the main indicators that shows the high level of our cooperation with the WHO. Thus, during 59th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe held on 14-17 September 2009, in Copenhagen the Republic of Azerbaijan has been elected to the Standing Committee for 3 years term (2009-2012). During the 58th session of the World Health Assembly held on 16-25 May 2005, in Geneva, Azerbaijan has been elected to the Executive Board of WHO for the years of 2005-2008. Furthermore, Azerbaijan has been elected to the Executive Board of WHO for the years of 2012-2015. As it is previously mentioned, during the meeting of Executive Board Mr. O.Shiraliyev, Minister of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been elected as the Vice-Chair of the Board.
At the same time, as one of the priority areas of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations at Geneva, there were established close mutual relations with different departments of WHO in the direction of cooperation with WHO. Besides, the active participation at the sessions of the WHO Assembly, Executive Board and Regional Office for Europe, as well as at the other meetings of WHO during the year is ensured. Moreover, besides the coordination the mutual relations with the WHO, a number of meetings are being held with the officials of WHO.
A two year Cooperation Agreement (2012-2013) signed by the Minister of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Director of WHO Regional Office for Europe defined following directions as the priority areas for the years of 2012-2013: strengthening health system and public health; non-communicable diseases; promotion of health and healthy life; communicable diseases; health security and environment; health information, health research and innovation.
At the same time, a number of projects on the improvement of health system, public health, prevention of maternal and infant mortality, and on the other health related issues has been implemented and continue to be implemented by WHO in Azerbaijan. They are the followings:
1. DOTs (Directly Observed Treatment-short course) project – The project considers implementation of short-term medical courses of tuberculosis under the direct control of doctor. Within the framework of this project, T.B. prophylactic centers in Baku, Nakhchivan, Lankaran, Khachmaz, Ganja, Sumgait, Sabirabad, Sheki and Mingachevir receives humanitarian assistance as medicaments against tuberculosis, roentgen apparatuses, microscopes and other equipment. A number of NGOs also has joined to this project;
2. MECACAR – the program on elimination of poliomyelitis. This wide-range program has been implementing in Azerbaijan since 1995. UNICEF has also joined this program;
3. CARAK – the program on mothers’ and children's protection;
4. The program on diphtheria observation – within the framework of this program the training courses for medical staff of different districts of Azerbaijan is being carried out;
5. The program on family planning – Ganja and Sumgait were chosen for implementing of this program;
6. The program on mental disease - within the framework of this program, different kinds of medicaments are brought as humanitarian assistance to our country. The Ministry of Health gives these assistance materials to Guba and other districts which were chosen as pilot districts;
7. South Caucasus Health Information Project - the project aims to help the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan to reconstruct and develop its own Health Information System.