Secretariat for the Australia and New-Zealand-based

World Health Organization Collaborating Centres


WHO Collaborating Centres (WHO CC) are hosted at institutions and are designated by the Director-General to carry out activities in support of WHO programmes.  A WHO CC is defined as “an institution designated by the Director-General to form part of an international collaborative network carrying out activities in support of the Organization’s programme at all levels.”

The designation both recognises a history of collaboration with WHO and provides a formal framework for future joint activities. It is a time-limited agreement of collaboration between WHO and the designated institution, through which the latter agrees to implement a series of concrete activities specifically developed or designed with WHO.

There are currently 53 designated WHO Collaborating Centres in Australia and New Zealand.  These centres provide expert advice and technical guidance to WHO on a diverse range of activities such as undertaking research, collecting data, drafting reports, participating in WHO missions, delivering capacity building programs, providing expert consultation, and developing guidelines.

The collaboration brings benefits to both parties. WHO gains access to top institutions worldwide and the institutional capacity to support its work. Similarly, institutions designated as a WHO CC gain increased visibility and recognition internationally, opportunities to connect with internationally recognised health networks, access to ground-breaking research, and opportunities to procure additional resources from funding partners.

There is limited engagement and collaboration by WHO CCs based in Australia and NZ as there is no mechanism that facilitates collaboration.  WHO CCs are not funded by WHO, and any funding they receive must be used towards specific projects.  WHO CCs have no financial or resource capacity to develop collaboration strategies and activities. Consultations with the sector and relevant government departments has revealed that there are significant missed opportunities to leverage Australia and New Zealand’s global health sector expertise through effective engagement with WHO CCs.  In addition, there are missed opportunities to improve business development, and program efficiency and effectiveness through collaboration and cooperation.  These missed opportunities place significant limitations on Australian and New Zealand WHO CCs, and may also limit Australia’s foreign and health system policy development.

In response, a Secretariat is being formed to strengthen Australia’s global health sector, maximising efficiency and effectiveness to address complex global health challenges. The Secretariat will focus on four key thematic areas of work in the first year: mental health, obesity, anti-microbial resistance and climate change. There will be an official opening and Collaborating Centre Forum in December 2019.