WHO Results Report 2023 shows notable health achievements and calls for a concerted drive toward SDGs

  • 9 May 2024
  • 3 Mins Read
  • 〜 by World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) Results Report 2023, the most comprehensive to date, showcases the achievement of key public health milestones, even amid greater global humanitarian health needs driven by conflict, climate change and disease outbreaks.

The report is released ahead of the 2024 Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly, which runs from 27 May to 1 June 2024. WHO’s revised Programme Budget for 2022–2023 was US$6726.1 million, incorporating lessons learned from the pandemic response and addressing emerging health priorities. 

With 96% of WHO country offices providing 174 country reports on achievements, the report shows progress towards 46 targets and highlights challenges.

Triple billion targets

“The world is off track to reach most of the triple billion targets and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “However, with concrete and concerted action to accelerate progress, we could still achieve a substantial subset of them. Our goal is to invest even more resources where they matter most—at the country level—while ensuring sustainable and flexible financing to support our mission.”

The report shows advancement in several key areas, including healthier populations, universal health coverage (UHC), and health emergency protection.

Related to healthier populations, the current trajectory indicates the target of 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being will likely be met by 2025, driven primarily by improvements in air quality and access to water, sanitation and hygiene measures.

In terms of UHC, 30% of countries are moving ahead in coverage of essential health services and providing financial protection. This is largely due to increased HIV service coverage.

Regarding emergency protection, though the coverage of vaccinations for high-priority pathogens shows improvement relative to the COVID-19 pandemic-related disruptions in 2020–2021, it has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The Pandemic Fund’s first disbursements totalled US$338 million in 2023, supporting 37 countries in funding the initial response to acute events and scaling up life-saving health operations in protracted crises. WHO continues to work with countries and partners to enhance genomic sequencing capabilities and strengthen laboratory and surveillance systems worldwide, with capacity increased by 62% for SARS-CoV-2 between February 2021 and December 2023.

Prominent points

The world’s first malaria vaccine, RTS,S/AS01, was administered to more than two million children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi during the biennium, reducing mortality by 13% among children eligible for vaccination. WHO’s prequalification of a second vaccine, R21/Matrix-M, is expected to further boost malaria control efforts.

Elsewhere, 14 countries eliminated at least one neglected tropical disease from 2022–2023. Bangladesh eliminated 2.

The first-ever all-oral treatment regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis were made available in 2022, allowing the highest number of people with tuberculosis to get treatment since monitoring began almost 30 years ago. 

Thanks to WHO’s REPLACE initiative, which aims to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply, an additional 13 countries implemented best-practice policies, bringing the total to 53 countries. 

More than 75% of people living with HIV are receiving antiretroviral therapy, with most achieving viral suppression — meaning they cannot infect others. WHO’s guidance and support have helped countries like Botswana achieve significant progress in controlling HIV transmission.

Tobacco use is declining in 150 countries, 56 of which are on track to achieve the global target for reducing tobacco use by 2025.

An additional 29 countries developed multisectoral national action plans on antimicrobial resistance during the biennium 2022–2023, bringing the total to 178 countries.

Following the Director-General’s call to eliminate cervical cancer, another 25 countries have introduced the human papillomavirus vaccine, bringing the total to 58 that have introduced the vaccine since WHO launched the initiative in 2020. 

The way forward

The report acknowledges significant disparities in health outcomes, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that persistent health workforce shortages require investments in education and employment.

Looking ahead, WHO’s Programme Budget for 2024–2025 aims to balance investment in the Organization’s normative functions with the need to strengthen country offices. It aims to fund 80% of the planned budget of high-priority items, thereby accelerating progress towards meeting the triple billion targets of the GPW 13 (current WHO strategy for the period 2019-2023).


Commitment to global health

Thanks to the launch of the World Health Data Hub, Member State access to health data and clearances of national estimates was streamlined.

Member States have shown commitment to sustainable financing for WHO, adopting a path to increase assessed contributions to 50% of the base budget of the originally approved Programme Budget 2022-2023 by the biennium 2030–2031. Another element of sustainable financing is the Investment Round, which WHO will launch at WHA77 to secure resources for WHO’s core work for the next 4 years (2025-2028). 

WHO will work with existing and new donors and other partners through an inclusive engagement process that will culminate in a high-level financing event in the fourth quarter of 2024.