The Advisory Committee of the WHO Centre for Health Development in Kobe (WKC) has concluded its 24th annual meeting which was held virtually for the first time this year due to the unprecedented situation of COVID-19.
The Director-General of WHO appoints the Advisory Committee which comprises representatives from each of the six WHO Regions, the host country, the local area, and the Kobe Group  which provides generous material and financial support to the work of WKC.
The Advisory Committee deeply appreciated the Centre’s central role in disseminating COVID-19 information for health professionals managing the outbreak and preventing outbreaks in Japan. At the same time, the Centre has maintained its research focus during such difficult times.
The new member to the Advisory Committee, Dr Teiji Takei, Assistant Minister for Global Health and Welfare, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MOHLW) in Japan, thanked WKC for the central role it has played during COVID-19, including translation of documents. WKC worked with UN agencies and local Japanese experts to translate over 100 WHO technical guidance and public information documents about COVID-19.
The Committee acknowledged the breadth of WKC’s research of 29 projects across multiple countries, and its impressive scientific output of 33 scientific publications, including the WHO Guidance on Research Methods for Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management, the world’s first reference book to guide research during health emergencies.
The chair of the 2020 Advisory Committee, Professor Irene Agyepong of the Public Health Faculty of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Dodowa Health Research Center, representing WHO’s Africa region, said: “We congratulate WKC on progress and excellent response to the 2019 recommendations, in particular the impressive output including the Guidance. It is good that the Centre is focusing on its niche areas of Universal Health Coverage and ageing, health emergencies and disaster risk management, which are its comparative advantage.”
The Committee also commended the Centre’s expanded partnerships within WHO and with academic institutes globally and in the Kansai region of Japan, and recommended that it use opportunities such as WHO’s Regional Committee meetings to disseminate its work to key decision makers to impact on health policy and practice.
“I am really impressed with the number of publications WKC has produced over the year which reflects good quality work, and its expanded collaboration, globally and in Japan,” said Professor Maged Al- Sherbiny, Higher Education Senior Advisor of Direct Aid International in Kuwait representing WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region.
The Committee endorsed WKC as a Centre of Excellence and Innovation, and recommended that WKC secure core financing from WHO to expand its work even further. The impact of COVID-19 with respect to equity, access to care and ageing populations was identified as an emerging niche area for future research.
 The Kobe Group comprises the Hyogo Prefectural Government, Kobe City, the Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Kobe Steel Ltd.