World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO Country Office in Azerbaijan was established in June 1994 in Baku to assist in the implementation of WHO programmes in the country.

Azerbaijan and WHO. Azerbaijan has a long history of active participation in WHO’s governing bodies. Since 2006, the Ministry of Health has twice been represented on WHO’s Executive Board, and once on the WHO European Region’s Standing Committee of the Regional Committee. In 2011, Azerbaijan hosted WHO’s annual governance meeting for the European Region – the 61st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe. At that meeting, ministers of health and public health experts from the 53 countries in the WHO European Region agreed on action plans to address major public health challenges and growing threats across the European Region. A new European Health Policy Framework – Health 2020 – was also discussed at the Azerbaijan Regional Committee, and adopted the subsequent year. With its focus on stronger equity and better governance for health, Health 2020 is a precursor and complements the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Key health milestones

  • The country was declared polio-free in 2002.
  • It ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, in 2005, an international treaty developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic.
  • With WHO support, Azerbaijan began HIV treatment services in 2006.
  • The WHO Director-General has visited the country three times over the last decade, and in 2007 awarded First Lady Dr Mehriban Aliyeva the WHO Ihsan Dogramaci Family Health Foundation Prize.
  • Between 2007-2014, maternal mortality in Azerbaijan fell by more than 50%.
  • Azerbaijan successfully interrupted malaria transmission in 2013, meeting its national goal laid out in the 2008–2013 strategic plan. Now the country focusses on preventing malaria re-introduction. In 2015 the national strategy for prevention of malaria reintroduction for the years 2015–2020 was adopted.
  • The country received measles and rubella elimination status in 2016.

WHO’s work in Azerbaijan today

Today, the WHO Office in Baku comprises a small team of six WHO staff. It supports the Government to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, providing guidance on policy-making, building up local relationships to implement technical cooperation, setting standards and agreements, and ensuring that public health measures are coordinated to address ongoing health priorities and in times of crisis.

Priorities for WHO’s work in Azerbaijan are agreed through a biennial collaborative agreement (BCA). The office implements the agreement in close collaboration with national institutions and international partner agencies. It supports achieving Azerbaijan’s national health policies and plans.

Among current health priorities and success are:

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – WHO guided the development of the National NCD strategy and action plan 2016-2020.

Tobacco control – Tobacco advertising in various forms has been banned since 1997, and health warnings on packaging are legally mandated to cover 30% of the front and rear.

Maternal and child health – WHO has supported the development of the national maternal and child health programme. In 2015, the country moved to the International Live Birth Definition (ILBD), enabling more accurate recording for infant mortality.

Health system strengthening – The country is piloting mandatory health insurance in selected areas, with support from WHO.

Immunization – National clinicians and medical experts have received training in vaccine safety and contraindications against vaccination.

Tuberculosis – WHO supports the implementation of the national TB control programme

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