The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated Public Health Wales’ Policy, Research and International Development Directorate as a WHO Collaborating Centre on ‘Investment for Health and Well-being’.

The designation recognises Public Health Wales as a world leading authority on supporting investment in people’s health and well-being, driving sustainable development and promoting prosperity for all.

This is the first WHO Collaborating Centre in this area of expertise in the world.

The new Collaborating Centre will develop, collect and share new information on how best to invest in better health, reduce inequalities and build stronger communities in Wales, Europe and worldwide.

As part of this collaborative development, Public Health Wales and the WHO have agreed a four-year programme of work.

This will inform and promote more sustainable policies, embrace the principles of human rights, equity and evidence based interventions and help address the health and well-being needs of current and future generations.

Vaughan Gething, AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services, said:

“This is a huge milestone and recognition for the whole of Wales. Whilst we are a small country, we are outward looking and show global responsibility. It demonstrates that we are fully committed to a healthy and sustainable Wales through our internationally unique Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act.

“As a founding member of the WHO Regions for Health Network, we are pleased to be able to share our experience and expertise with other nations and work towards a more equal, healthy and sustainable world.

“We hope that Public Health Wales, and its first WHO Collaborating Centre, will work together with the Welsh Government to implement our national strategy, Prosperity for All.

“Together we can show how investment in public health help deliver a fairer economy. This also supports our forward looking vision for the Health Service where people themselves have a greater say in their own health care, and we continue to deliver high quality service in every community.”

The WHO Collaborating Centre on Investment for Health and Well-being in Public Health Wales will join a network of over 700 collaborating centres covering different health topics and based in 80 countries worldwide.

It will support Wales to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and its world-leading national equivalent, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act.

A formal launch of the new collaborating centre is expected to take place in May.

Dr Christoph Hamelmann, Head of the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development and the WHO Responsible Officer for the new WHO Collaborating Centre, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Public Health Wales’ Policy, Research and International Development directorate as the first WHO Collaborating Centre in this field.

“The expertise and high quality work from our colleagues in Wales has been a valuable asset to the WHO over the past years. Our recent joint work collating global knowledge on ‘Investment for Health and Well-being’ is a good example of our fruitful collaboration.

“We are looking forward to continuing our joint work together, supporting countries across the European Region and the world to drive investment for health, well-being and equity and to achieve sustainable economies, societies and planetary health.”

The WHO Collaborating Centre status is a result of a long-term partnership between Public Health Wales and the WHO, gaining a leading role in the global health and sustainable development agenda.

Professor Mark A Bellis, Director of the new WHO Collaborating Centre at Public Health Wales said:

“Becoming a WHO Collaborating Centre will allow us to build upon the years of successful work we have already undertaken with the Word Health Organization.

“Many countries in the world face similar problems ensuring that successive generations can expect healthy, fair and prosperous lives.

“Working with world leading experts in the WHO, and throughout their international networks, will help us understand which public health policies and interventions work best for the people of Wales and for those in other nations around the world.

“Wales is already a global leader in public health policy. We are looking forward to sharing what we have learned and to learning from others about how to make Wales an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”

Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Heath Wales, said:

“I am delighted we have been invited to join this global network of expertise. Our Policy, Research and International Development directorate has made valuable contributions to the field of sustainable development and investment in public health in recent years, so it is wonderful that their hard work is being recognised.

“I am looking forward to continuing to work with colleagues and experts worldwide, to maximise the benefits of international learning and innovation for the people of Wales, as well as enhancing our role and impact on the global health agenda.”

WHO collaborating centres are recognised as world-leading centres of excellence in their field.

Jan Williams, Chair of Public Health Wales, added: “Public Health Wales Board members join with me congratulating Mark Bellis and his team on this outstanding achievement.

“It is well-deserved recognition for their ground breaking work across the public health policy agenda, and places Wales at the heart of the global public health movement.

“Public Health Wales has a longstanding relationship with the WHO and this award helps us build on that, in the interests of improving the health and well-being of the people of Wales.

“Our Board members look forward to continuing to work closely with WHO colleagues and to making the most of this award for Wales.”