World Health Organization Collaborating Centers

| Definition |

WHO CCs are institutions 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 recognizes both 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 designed for WHO.

| Vision |

WHO CCs are key institutions with relevant expertise distributed throughout the world. They represent a valuable resource as an extended and integral arm of WHO's capacity to implement its mandated work.

| Mission |

The WHO CCs are a highly valued mechanism of cooperation in which selected institutions are recognized by WHO to assist the Organization with implementing its mandated work. This is accomplished by supporting the achievement of planned strategic objectives at the regional and global levels; enhancing the scientific validity of its global health work; and developing and strengthening institutional capacity in countries and regions.

Functions of Collaborating Centers

Since WHO CCs assist the Organization in implementing its mandated work, all activities carried out by an institution designated as WHO CC must be clearly linked to the WHO strategic plans and reflected in the workplans of the technical programmes to which they contribute.

The functions of Collaborating Centers are:

  1. 1. Collection, collation and dissemination of information;
  2. 2. Standardization of terminology and nomenclature, of technology, of diagnostic, therapeutic and prophylactic substances, and of methods and procedures;
  3. 3. Development of evidence-based technical guidance tools and resource materials on various topics;
  4. 4. Development and application of appropriate technology;
  5. 5. Provision of reference substances and other services;
  6. 6. Participation in collaborative research developed under WHO's leadership, including the planning, conducting, monitoring and evaluation of research, evaluation of WHO interventions in countries, as well as promotion of the application of the results of research;
  7. 7. Training, including research training;
  8. 8. Coordination of activities carried out by several institutions on a given subject;
  9. 9. Capacity-building work at country level;
  10. 10. Provision of monitoring, preparedness and response services to deal with disease outbreaks and public health emergencies.

Criteria for Designation and Election

After at least two years of successful collaboration with WHO in carrying out jointly planned activities, and if warranted by WHO technical programmes’ needs, WHO may propose the designation of an institution as a WHO CC. Spontaneous applications or self-nominations by institutions are not accepted.

The following formally established institutions (or, more commonly, parts thereof) may be eligible for designation: universities, research institutes, hospitals or academies. In addition, parts of Governments may be eligible for designation. Designations should be as specific as possible: normally only the concerned department, division, laboratory or unit of the institution that collaborates with WHO may be designated. Although eligible institutions can be public or private, institutions should not be of commercial or profit-making nature. Neither joint centers (i.e. two or more institutions, or two or more parts of the same institution, sharing a single designation as a WHO CC) nor multi-site centers (i.e. multiple branches or offices of one institution in different locations) qualify for designation.

In order to be considered, eligible institutions must fulfill all of the following criteria:

  1. 1. High scientific and technical standing of the institution concerned at the national and international levels;
  2. 2. Prominent place of the institution in the country's health, scientific or educational structures;
  3. 3. High quality of its scientific and technical leadership, and sufficient number and high-level qualifications of its staff;
  4. 4. Stability in terms of personnel, activity and funding;
  5. 5. Strong working relationship with other institutions in the country, as well as at the intercountry, regional and global levels;
  6. 6. Clear ability, capacity and readiness to contribute, individually and within networks, to WHO programme activities, whether in support of country programmes or by participating in international cooperative activities;
  7. 7. Clear technical and geographical relevance of the institution and its activities to WHO's programme priorities;
  8. 8. At least two years of previous collaboration with WHO in carrying out jointly planned activities.

Designations cannot be transferred from one institution to another, nor can they be transferred from one part of an institution to another. For instance, in cases where the staff members working on the activities of a WHO collaborating center move to a different institution, the designation remains with the original institution, it does not follow the staff.