Programas & Clusters

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Communicable Diseases Cluster



WHO is at the forefront of supporting countries to tackle diseases which are major contributors to disease burden in the region, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases. The cluster also oversees work on health and the environment.

The vision of this cluster is an African Region with affordable and equitable access to quality prevention, treatment and care services to free it of the burden of communicable diseases.

Director Programme Management




Four technical clusters namely Family Health, Health Systems, Communicable Diseases and Noncommunicable Diseases fall under programme management.

In addition two cross cutting programmes, Health Promotion and Social and Economic Determinants; and Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation report directly to Programme Management.

Family and Reproductive Health





WHO promotes the continuum of care spanning from pregnancy and childbirth, to childhood, adolescence and beyond.

The vision of this cluster, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, is to support countries to end preventable maternal and child death and control vaccine preventable diseases; improve nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, gender, equity and human rights, and promote healthy ageing. Its mission is to promote health through the life cycle.The cluster addresses Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition; Immunization and Vaccine Development; and Reproductive and Women’s Health.

Its priorities are to:

  • To improve the availability, accessibility and utilization of quality health care services along the life cycle
  • Ensure achievement of universal immunization coverage within the WHO African Region
  • Ensure accountability, measurement and tracking mechanisms for reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health, and immunization
  • Reduce maternal, neonatal and under five mortality by 50% by 2020 in the African Region
  • Achieve elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV by 2030
  • Improve adolescent health and development
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health

General Management and Coordination


This cluster strives to ensure the optimal use and rational management of the organization’s financial, technical and human resources, to promote excellence to achieve high levels of performance and deliver the highest quality services in an environment that actively encourages staff members to learn, grow and develop their skills.

It encompasses Accounts and Financial Management which supports technical units at the Regional Office, Country Offices and Intercountry Support teams; Administrative Services; Compliance; Field Security; Human Resources Management; Information Technology Management to provide secure and reliable information and communications technology services to all staff and users in the Region; Procurement and Supplies Services; and Translation, Interpretation and Printing which facilitates communication and flow of ideas among Member States of the WHO African Region to inform decision-making.

Health Systems and Services


The mission of the Health Systems and Services Cluster is to support member states to build robust, resilient and responsive health systems and services that can sustain equitable delivery of integrated packages of essential services of good quality, that enable vital access for all individuals, communities and populations.

A strong focus is on supporting countries to attain universal health coverage, defined as when the whole population has access to quality health services without enduring undue financial hardship.

Divisions include Health Information and Knowledge Management; Health Policies, Strategies and Governance; Health Technologies and Innovations; and Service Delivery Systems.

Areas of work include blood safety, essential medicines, health financing, health systems and services, health workforce, laboratories and health technology, and research, publications and library services.

Noncommunicable Diseases




Many NCDs have a long duration and slow progression, and collectively are responsible for nearly 70% of deaths worldwide. The cluster’s vision is to have a world free of the avoidable burden of NCDs. Its mission is to reduce the preventable and avoidable burden of morbidity, mortality and disability due to NCDs through multisectoral collaboration, in support of the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The NCD cluster is organized under two umbrellas of work: NCD Integrated Management which covers cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obstructive lung diseases, mental health and substance abuse; and NCD Primary Prevention which focuses on reduction of key risk factors and determinants including tobacco control, the harmful use of alcohol, violence and injuries, and disabilities. Health promotion is a core area which includes healthy diet, and active living and working.

Priorities are to:

  • increase the importance accorded to NCD’s in development work;
  • establish and strengthen multisectoral policies;
  • reduce the four main risk factors for NCDs;
  • orient health systems to NCD prevention and control through the primary health care approach;
  • promote research, monitor NCDs and evaluate progress; and
  • promote effective NCD partnerships.

Office of Regional Director


The Office of the Regional Director (ORD) supports the Regional Director (RD) in the efficient delivery of her mandate and in providing leadership and vision for the organization. The Office coordinates the RD’s regular liaison and collaboration with countries, the UN system, development partners, donors and other stakeholders. It is also responsible for gathering and synthesizing relevant policy-related information for RD’s decisions. It is intricately linked with the various Clusters within AFRO, WHO Country Offices and Inter-Country Support Teams, giving leadership and policy guidance to their work.

The ORD drives the Regional Director’s Transformation Agenda - a strategy for change to enhance the performance of the WHO Secretariat as it supports Member States towards improved health outcomes. It is also the vehicle for accelerating WHO’s global reforms. There are four focus areas of change: pro-results values; smart technical focus; responsive strategic operations; and effective communications and partnerships.

Units include Country and Inter-country Support; External Relations, Partnerships and Governing Bodies; the Ombudsman; Communications; and the Polio Eradication Programme which, with significant funding, is working to eradicate polio in the African region.

WHO Health Emergencies Programme

Sub-Saharan Africa experiences about 100 acute public health events annually. The majority are infectious diseases outbreaks, followed by disasters and chemical incidents. All the 47 Member States are at risk.

The WHE is part of the Global Emergency Programme coordinated from Geneva.  The vision of this cluster is protecting health and saving lives in outbreaks and emergencies. The mission is to help countries, and to coordinate international action, to prevent, prepare for, detect, rapidly respond to, and recover from outbreaks and emergencies. 

Priorities include:

  • Stopping the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak while restoring health systems
  • Conducting regional risk-mapping for public health emergencies to build early warning and response systems
  • Strengthening regional capacity for strategy information management for decision making and operations coordination, using one common platform
  • High level advocacy meetings for International Health Regulations (IHR), including other sectors
  • Innovative funding mechanisms for the African Public Health Fund
  • Building countries’ capacities for IHR

Specific programmes which fall under this global WHO programme include country health emergency preparedness and IHR; emergency operations; health emergency information and risk assessment; integrated disease surveillance; infectious hazard management; and food safety.