For WHO to fulfil its leadership role in global health and to act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, it proactively engages with non-State actors for the advancement and protection of public health. This includes engagement with nongovernmental organizations, private sector entitites, philanthropic organizations, and academic institutions.
WHO’s engagement with those non-State actors can bring important benefits to global public health and to the work of the Organization in fulfilling its directing and coordinating role in global health. Additional benefits arising from such engagements also include:
- the influence that WHO can have on non-State actors to enhance their impact on global public health or to influence the social, economic and environmental determinants of health;
- the influence that WHO can have on non-State actors’ compliance with WHO’s policies, norms and standards;
- the additional resources non-State actors can contribute to WHO’s work;
- the wider dissemination of and adherence by non-State actors to WHO’s policies, norms and standards.
Effective engagement with non-State actors requires a robust framework that enables engagement, while protecting and preserving WHO’s integrity, reputation and public health mandate. Accordingly, the 69th World Health Assembly adopted the Framework of engagement with non-State actors (FENSA) in 2016. FENSA provides a detailed set of rules for WHO’s engagement with the following types of non-State actors:
- nongovernmental organizations,
- private sector entities,
- philanthropic foundations, and
- academic institutions.
For each of the four groups of entities, FENSA defines a specific set of rules of engagement.
FENSA further obliges WHO to manage any engagement with non-State actors in a transparent manner. It is therefore currently establishing the WHO Register of non-State actors, an internet-based, publicly available electronic tool in which the public can find information on the nature of each non-State actor that WHO engages with as well as the type of engagement.