WHO and the Netherlands strengthen their Partnership

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WHO and Netherlands Strategic Dialogue in The Hague, Netherlands 10 April 2024. Credit: Michel Mees Photography

The WHO and the Netherlands convened in The Hague on 10 April 2024, to discuss joint priorities and alignment between the Dutch Global Health Strategy and WHO’s key strategic goals, marking a new milestone in their longstanding partnership.

Rooted in the Netherlands’ unwavering commitment to global health, human rights, and universal access to comprehensive health services, the collaboration between the WHO and the Netherlands is instrumental in addressing global health challenges and fostering health and well-being, worldwide and in the country.

Against the backdrop of ongoing conflicts, disasters, and the escalating impact of climate change, and the interconnectedness of the Dutch public health landscape in the Netherlands with global health challenges, this year’s Strategic Dialogue emerged as a critical platform for reflecting on this partnership’s long-term vision.

“In this Strategic Dialogue, throughout all sessions, WHO and the Netherlands showed a commitment to cooperation and to deepening their partnership based on the strong alignment between their respective priorities and objectives”, said Ms Marjolijn Sonnema, Director General for Public Health at the Netherlands’ Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

A key outcome of the Strategic Dialogue was the recognition of the alignment between the Dutch Global Health Strategy and the WHO’s forthcoming 14th General Programme of Work, paving the way for synergies in areas such as health system strengthening, pandemic preparedness, climate change and health, anti-microbial resistance (AMR) and mental health support.

“At a time when inequity in health and in access to essential health services and financial protection is increasing, disproportionately impacting the poor and most vulnerable, the Netherlands stands as a global health leader and trusted WHO partner. With shared priorities and commitment to sexual and reproductive rights, gender equity, health systems, security, climate resilience, and mental health, we look forward to strengthening our partnership to enhance the health and well-being of all, globally and in the Netherlands”, said Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage, Life Course.

WHO acknowledged the Netherlands’ global leadership as a flexible donor, with an agreement around the imperative to ensure WHO’s financing is more sustainable, through the inaugural WHO Investment Round. This WHO initiative aims to mobilize predictable, sustainable and flexible resources essential for the WHO to respond swiftly and effectively to global health challenges and improve health outcomes, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Addressing contemporary challenges such as geopolitical tensions while seizing opportunities for advancing global health objectives were also on the table during the dialogue. Both parties stressed the importance of sustained collaboration to address pressing health issues comprehensively.

Taking stock of the joint achievements since the previous strategic dialogue in 2022

In 2022, the Strategic Dialogue between the Netherlands and WHO called on both partners to enhance synergies between WHO priorities and the new Dutch Global Health Strategy. Implementing this approach, the Netherlands and WHO:

  • Expanded their cooperation to new areas of joint interest, e.g., climate change and health;
  • Renewed their longstanding cooperation on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in health emergencies and humanitarian settings;
  • Improved the flexibility and predictability of the Netherlands’ financial support through renewed General Arrangements with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2022-2025) and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (2024–2028) demonstrating the Netherlands’ commitment to WHO’s sustainable financing; 
  • Hosted together the 2nd World Local Production Forum in the Netherlands;
  • Continued and deepened their technical cooperation through secondments, Junior Professional Officers and the Collaborative Centres.

The outcomes of the 2024 dialogue will inform future collaboration between the Netherlands and the WHO, so that efforts are aligned, and the optimal use of resources is helps achieve improved health outcomes worldwide. The enduring partnership between the Netherlands and the WHO stands as a cornerstone in the global health landscape, reflecting a shared commitment to advancing health and well-being globally.

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The Netherlands is a key supporter and strategic partner of the WHO.

In 2022- 2023, the Netherlands was one of the top five flexible WHO contributors with nearly US$ 19 million in core voluntary contributions. Overall, the Netherlands contributed more than US$ 106 million to the WHO in 2022 – 2023, of which US$ 93 million, nearly 90%, was voluntary funding.

The Netherlands also supports the WHO’s technical expertise through secondments of staff and helps boost young people’s careers in public health via the WHO’s Junior Professional Officer Programme.

This demonstrates the Netherlands’ commitment through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to the WHO’s central role in the global health architecture.

Through this support, the Netherlands contributes to crucial activities in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, water and sanitation, mental health in emergencies, emergency preparedness, tuberculosis, One Health, primary health care, antimicrobial resistance, while facilitating cooperation with top Dutch institutions.

See more information on the partnership between Netherlands and WHO.

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