The Permanent Mission of Sweden represents Sweden in the international organisations working with health in Geneva. Geneva is the world’s health capital. The headquarters of the WHO, UNAIDS, the Global Fund against AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) and the GAVI Alliance are all located in Geneva. Sweden is a large donor and an active Member State in these organisations. The Permanent Mission works to promote Swedish policy priorities as well as an efficient and results based management.
The World Health Organization (WHO) was established in 1948. It is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. The main objective of the WHO is the attainment of the highest possible level of health for all people. According to the Organization's definition, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. To achieve this the WHO shall, inter alia, provide leadership on matters critical to health and engage in partnerships where joint action is needed, shape the research agenda, set norms and standards, develop evidence-based policy options, provide technical support, monitor the health situation and assess health trends.
WHO is governed by the World Health Assembly (WHA) and its Executive Board (EB). The WHA comprises all 194 Member States and meets in May each year to discuss and decide on WHO's budget, objectives and operations. The EB consists of 34 members from the Member States, elected on three-year terms. The Board meets twice a year and its main task is to prepare issues prior to the meetings of the WHA. Sweden is a member of the Board during the term 2015-2018.
Sweden's cooperation with the WHO is based on the Strategy for Sweden's cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) 2016-2019. According to the Strategy, three cross-cutting perspectives should be given particular attention in Sweden’s cooperation with WHO, rights perspective, gender perspective and equity perspective. Moreover, Sweden prioritizes broader health dimensions such as health systems’ strengthening (systems that promote equitable and gender-equal health) and strengthened health security, including preparedness, surveillance and response.
Read more in the Strategy for Sweden's cooperation with the WHO 2016-2019.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) was established in 1996 as an innovative partnership to lead and inspire the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Sweden was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the organisation and is one of its largest funders.
UNAIDS aims to unite the efforts of the United Nations system, civil society, national governments, the private sector, global institutions and people living with and most affected by HIV to reach its in vision of Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths.
The main task of UNAIDS is to coordinate the UN system's programmes on HIV/AIDS and it functions as a global platform for combating HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS promotes research into HIV/AIDS, disseminates information on the epidemic, and works to enhance the understanding of its causes and consequences. Furthermore, UNAIDS aims to reduce the vulnerability of HIV-infected individuals and groups through care and support.
UNAIDS is guided by a Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) with representatives of 22 governments, the 11 UNAIDS Cosponsors (UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, ILO, UNESCO, WHO, World Bank and UN Women, and five representatives of non-governmental organizations, including associations of people living with HIV. Sweden is part of a constituency consisting of Austria, Iceland, Sweden and Switzerland, where Sweden presently is on the Board, working closely with the constituency of Denmark, Norway and Finland.
The Global Fund against AIDS, TB and Malaria is a public-private partnership and international financing institution dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria. The fund, which builds on global cooperation between governments, civil society, the private sector, and the communities affected by the diseases, was established in 2002 and has grown to become an important source of financing for programs directed at AIDS, TB and Malaria.
GFATM is governed by a Board composed of representatives from donor and recipient governments, civil society, the private sector, private foundations, and communities living with and affected by the diseases. The Board is responsible for the organization's governance, including establishing strategies and policies, making funding decisions and setting budgets. The Board also works to advocate and mobilize resources for the organization. Sweden is represented in the Board through the Point 7 constituency which comprises Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Norway is the current representative of the constituency on the Board.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) is based on cooperation between donor countries, recipient countries, the World Bank, WHO, UNICEF, the pharmaceutical industry and private foundations. GAVI works to provide developing countries with rapid assistance to increase and improve the vaccination of children and adults. This is done partly by giving the countries funds for vaccines, and partly by assisting them in constructing health systems and formulating strategies that enables well-functioning vaccination programmes.
The GAVI Alliance Board meets twice-a-year and provides strategic direction and policy-making, oversees the operations of the Alliance and monitors programme implementation. Sweden is represented on the Board through a constituency comprising the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
Sweden's Policy for Global Development sets out that Sweden, together with other countries, shall intensify the struggle against communicable diseases and other health threats. In order to deal with, and reduce, the global and dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, Sweden prioritises health promotion and preventive health programmes, sustainable healthcare systems and early warning systems for communicable diseases. Sweden also seeks to ensure that people receive care and treatment on equal terms. Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is a particularly important policy area. Sexual and reproductive ill-health is one of the most common causes of illness and death among women aged 15–44 in developing countries. Despite increasing efforts the maternal mortality rates remain high in many parts of the world.
Well-functioning, results based, transparent and efficient organisations are fundamental to the ability to use the world's limited resources in the best way possible and achieve the substantial results we aim at. Sweden therefore also attaches great importance to managerial issues. Relevance and effectiveness should be the main criteria in assessing and deciding on Swedish aid to all multilateral channels.
A new Swedish development cooperation policy framework was adopted by the Government in 2016. The introduction of close to a hundred global and vertical health initiatives has expanded resources for certain healthcare initiatives such as AIDS programmes and the supply of vaccines in poor countries. Major challenges however remain in terms of aid effectiveness and coherence between global initiatives and adapting these initiatives to national priorities, plans and programmes. Sweden promotes a coherent multilateral system and an efficient division of labour within the UN.
In matters relating to health and development the Permanent Mission cooperates mainly with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).