Wellcome’s partnership with the World Health Organization

Wellcome is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to take on big challenges in global health.

About the partnership 

Building on many years of collaboration, Wellcome became a non-state actor in official relations with the WHO in February 2018. This means we can play a more active part in WHO processes, for example by participating at sessions of its governing bodies and organising side events.

At a strategic meeting with the WHO in November 2018 we identified our shared goals, and the experience, networks and resources we can pool to work on them together.

Strategic priorities 

Our partnership with the WHO focuses on:

  • epidemics and other health emergencies
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • global health research and development.

Together we will monitor progress on these strategic areas and review whether to add to them in future. Potential new areas we are exploring in 2019 include mental health, climate and health, and neglected tropical diseases such as snakebite.

How we work together  

Wellcome supports the WHO by:

  • bringing together experts
  • providing technical advice
  • funding research and other projects.


Our work with the WHO includes:

  • coordinating research and innovation for epidemic risk diseases included in the WHO R&D Blueprint. This includes Wellcome-funded roadmaps for therapeutic, vaccine and diagnostic development for Lassa fever, Nipah and Ebola/Marburg viruses.
  • supporting data sharing during public health emergencies by funding development of software tools like Go-Data and Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources. This is part of our joint initiative on epidemic preparedness with the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
  • supporting research ethics in health emergencies by helping to develop frameworks and guidance. This is also part of our joint initiative with DFID.

Antimicrobial resistance

We’re working with the WHO to strengthen research, surveillance and optimal use of antimicrobials by:

  • supporting the UN Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance
  • supporting the WHO consultation process on behaviour change so that antibiotics are used more responsibly
  • making plans for developing in vitro diagnostics which are needed to slow antimicrobial resistance in low- and middle-income countries.

Global health research and development

To push this goal, as part of the Global Action Plan on the Sustainable Development Goals, we’re supporting the WHO to consult with a broad range of partners and stakeholders. The aim is to:

  • develop recommendations to improve global health research
  • identify the actions needed to scale up innovations
  • elevate national research priorities.

Funding to the World Health Organization

Over the past three years, we have provided more than $20 million in funding to the WHO to support work such as:

  • a national research plan for Lassa fever in Nigeria
  • a United Nations governance working group to tackle antimicrobial resistance
  • a three-year pilot scheme for the WHO internship programme
  • research response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • development of a World Meteorological Organization / WHO Health and Climate Science Portal.

Have a look at allgrants awarded to the WHO from 2013 to April 2019 [XLSX 44KB].

More information 

Contact us 

If you have any questions, contact Alice Jamieson.