Offering the latest news in health care quality and safety, the ISQua blog also features guest posts from the best and brightest in the industry.

By Wafa Allouche Thursday. Nov 8, 2018

My first impressions of Geneva and the WHO Headquarters

Geneva is a very welcoming city, arriving at the airport you are offered a free train ticket to reach the main Station: Cornavin. From there, you can discover all the exciting Geneva districts.


The WHO Headquarters is a prestigious building, administered by a rather complex system set up to make daily life easier for staff and offering modern conveniences.


Something that surprised me

Geneva is a modern city offering a comfortable and stress-free lifestyle. It’s designed in harmony and respect for nature.  I was strongly impacted by the Genevois’ respect for their cultural and national sovereignty.


What I have learned in my first month

During this month I was made aware of the WHO organisational structure, and the of the Service Delivery and Safety (SDS) Department specificities. In fact, I am assigned to the Quality Systems and Resilience (QSR) Unit Belonging to SDS. I also discovered the scope of activity of each colleague in order to set up a work plan. I got a clear understanding of the healthcare services and health system Resilience.


HQ interns meeting with the WHO DG


On November 5th 2018, I attended the WHO HQ Intern Induction Day. It gave me a whole vision of the functions and objectives of the WHO. The topics discussed were:

  • WHO and Youth Engagement
  • Using Social Media as a WHO Intern
  • The WHO Governing Bodies
  • The Global Programme Of Work– GPW 13 (2019-2023)
  • The services of The Office of the Ombudsman(OMB) and Internal Oversight Services (IOS)
  • WCOs and WHO’s role and responsibilities within the larger UN System
  • WHO History & Health Diplomacy


Within the QSR unit, I developed the Term of Reference (TOR) related to an international project as well as the conception notice of the project inception day. I gave a presentation about the Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA) tool. Currently, I am involved in preparing, elaborating and holding a taskforce dealing with WHO guidance approach to implementing quality of care. I am also participating in the organization of a workshop hosted by QSR unit entitled: The lifeblood of leadership.


As a volunteer with the Office of Deputy Directors-General for Programmes & Corporate Operations (DDG), I supported the team in preparing the 3 _level review of the 2020-2021 Global Public Health Goods submissions and actively participated in the restitution held on the 15th and 16th of November 2018.


Open seminars are held almost daily by various WHO departments. Here are some I attended:

  • Methodological challenges to developing public health guidelines.
  • Improving knowledge about who dies of what, and why it matters: The Bloomberg Data for Health Initiative.
  • Project ECHO: An approach for democratizing Knowledge, improving healthcare, and reducing disparities.
  • Healthy Life Course, Linking Global, Regional and Country Efforts.


My favourite moment

QSR Unit Weekly Huddle

I had a great first day -Monday 29th October 2018 - at WHO Headquarters, because every Monday QSR Unit holds the weekly huddle, and it was an opportunity to meet this strong and welcoming team. After this, I had a formal meeting with my supervisor Dr Shams Syed, an exceptional Leader. I will never forget what he said. “Go straight to your goals and take advantage of every minute of your internship, the lost time cannot be caught.”


I was lucky, because five days after starting my internship, I attended the HQ interns meeting with the WHO DG, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. When greeting him, he thanked me in my mother tongue language and I was deeply touched.


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