medical worker with vaccine vials

The effort to establish the stockpile was led by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision, which includes the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The stockpile will allow countries, with the support of humanitarian organizations, to contain future Ebola epidemics by ensuring timely access to vaccines for populations at risk during outbreaks. UNICEF manages the stockpile on behalf of the ICG.

child washing hands with blue soap

When COVID-19 hit Burundi, UNICEF and partners set to work on a massive communication campaign promoting handwashing with soap to stop the transmission of the virus. Immediately, a serious issue needed to be addressed: how can Burundians practice hand hygiene when many cannot afford buying soap? To help solve this problem, UNICEF approached SAVONOR, the biggest industrial soap producing company in Burundi, and reached an agreement: SAVONOR would reduce its own profit margin in soap production, and UNICEF would further subsidize the production – effectively cutting the price of soap in half. SAVONOR would also use its distribution system to make the soap available all over the country. The soap, called Bururu in the local language Kirundi, is like any other soap SAVONOR manufactures. The only differences are its blue color and the recommended retail price (150 BIF or US$0.08) engraved on each bar.

older couple with face masks

Already, there are more than 1 billion people aged 60 years or older, with most living in low- and middle-income countries. Many do not have access to even the basic resources necessary for a life of meaning and of dignity. Many others confront multiple barriers that prevent their full participation in society. The United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030) is an opportunity to bring us all together for ten years of concerted, catalytic and collaborative action to improve the lives of older people, their families, and their communities.

WHO staff in a flooded village

A year ago, a little-known virus emerged, and in a matter of weeks the world would be jolted by an unprecedented pandemic. COVID-19 has upturned every aspect of life, and the struggle is still on to bring the virus under control. In the African region, WHO has worked with governments to tackle the pandemic, which turned 2020 into an extremely challenging year. Even so, the region reached remarkable milestones: two Ebola outbreaks have been halted, Africa is free of wild polio and more is being done to safeguard health systems. We feature some of the key achievements of 2020.

medical workers with protective gear

2020 was an unprecedented year for WHO/Europe. COVID-19 dominated WHO’s work around the world, including the European Region, with support and cooperation taking place across countries. Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge was officially appointed WHO Regional Director for Europe, and at the 70th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, the European Programme of Work 2020-2025 was adopted by consensus by Member States. We look back on some of the key moments over the past 12 months.


Around 1.8 billion people are at heightened risk of COVID-19 and other diseases because they use or work in health care facilities without basic water services, warn WHO and UNICEF. The situation is worst of all in the world’s 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs): 1 in 2 health care facilities does not have basic drinking water, 1 in 4 health care facilities has no hand hygiene facilities at points of care; and 3 in 5 lack basic sanitation services. 

As exemplified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic major infectious diseases and epidemics have devastating impacts on human lives, wreaking havoc on long-term social and economic development. Global health crises threaten to overwhelm already overstretched health systems, disrupt global supply chains and cause disproportionate devastation for people in the poorest and most vulnerable countries. There is an urgent need for resilient and robust health systems that reach everyone. We invite you to observe with us the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness on 27 December.

Three Moscow-based women - a caregiver assisting terminally ill children, a refugee and a representative of disabled persons' community - relate their stories of living and working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Confused or worried about symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic? See this video for some answers!
A healthworker helps tie a girl’s facemask.

Since March, the United Nations system has focused on helping countries avoid the worst impacts of the pandemic, while working for a strong recovery. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly emphasized that the pandemic has hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our societies the hardest. He has called for a COVID-19 vaccine to be a global public good available to everyone, everywhere. As this difficult year draws to a close, Mr. Guterres encourages governments to meet the expectations of those we serve with unity, solidarity and coordinated multilateral global action.

Screens showing heart rates lines.

During the 2000 to 2019 period, noncommunicable diseases made up 7 of the world’s top 10 causes of death, according to WHO’s 2019 Global Health Estimates.

Image of a busy street with the letters over the image that read: 2020 The Year in Review.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives, the World Bank provides an overview in 12 charts and graphics, of its research in the face of a truly unprecedented crisis.

The World Bank is providing US$12 billion to help low-and middle-income countries get ready to deploy vaccines, including expanding storage, building cold chains, developing data and tracking systems, training health workers, and building trust in immunizations through citizen and community engag

child passing no smoking sign

WHO launched a year-long global campaign for World No Tobacco Day 2021 - Commit to Quit - to help 100 million people quit tobacco.

Health care workers

The World Bank Group has mounted the fastest and largest health crisis response in its history to save lives from COVID-19. The first operations focused on strengthening health systems to tackle the immediate challenges of COVID-19. In countries ranging from Afghanistan and Haiti to India, Mongolia, and Tajikistan, World Bank financing brought more medical staff onboard and ensured that they were well trained and equipped to deliver emergency care. It also helped ensure that public outreach messages to citizens on prevention and protection were quickly disseminated.