Efficient multilateral system



Multilateral cooperation is an essential pillar of Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021-24. Switzerland supports 16 key multilateral organizations. As the host country of the “global health capital" Geneva, where most global health institutions have their headquarters, Switzerland has a special responsibility in making the various actors work more efficient.

In this context, the SDC Health Network organized a series of webinars in 2022 to explore the different mandates, roles and ways of working both at the global and at the country levels of Geneva-based global health organizations.​

​​Series Background

Multilateral cooperation is an essential pillar of the Swiss international cooperation strategy. Switzerland supports 16 key multilateral organizations, by providing core and earmarked funding, seconding experts and accompanying them in global and local policy dialogue on development issues. Switzerland is also committed to an efficient multilateral system, looking for synergies among global actors based on their capacities and specific mandates. 

Most of global health institutions are based in Geneva, known as the “global health capital". Switzerland plays an essential role as host country and bears a special responsibility in making the various actors work more efficient. This webinar series, which took place in 2022, focused on Geneva-based global health organizations but also looked at non-Geneva health multilateral organizations actively engaged on this theme.

We specifically looked at performance and accountability, challenges in terms of sustainable funding, working modalities and potential synergies, UNDS reform agenda. For each module, we invited experts, partners and SDC colleagues to share their knowledge and help us navigate through current topical debates, global priorities, partnership modalities recommendations and a lot more.



​​Series Content and Objectives

The proposed webinars consisted of a mix of formats, from classical presentations to panel discussions and curated debates among speakers and with the participants. A special focus was granted to sharing of practical experiences, with a large space allocated to first-hand recount of specific initiatives by their promoters or implementers. 

The webinars had the following objectives: 
  • ​Refresh knowledge on the global health architecture and key actors, their role and mandate.
  • Reflect on the comparative advantage of each organization both at the global and country level.
  • Discuss the SDC engagement with key multilateral health organizations and the role of Switzerland as host country and key donor.
  • Share experiences on working modalities, successes and failure at the country level. ​​​​

Webinar modules​​


Module 1 (24 March): Setting the scene – who does what in international health Geneva. Overview of key global health ​actors

The first session zoomed in on the WHO, UNAIDS, The Global Fund, GAVI, PDPs. SDC colleagues in charge of each MO will shortly brief us on each organization’s mandate, country presence, funding and governance priorities.
We also heard from SDC colleagues at HQ, in the field and in Geneva on Global / bilateral synergies, impact and challenges working with health Multilateral Organizations. 

We explored the following key questions:
  • What are the key Geneva-based multilateral health institutions?
  • What is their mandate, working modalities at the country level?
  • What are the Swiss main interests with health multilateral organizations? 
  • How does ​cooperation look like at the country level?

Session outline:
Brief introduction: “Effective multilateralism as a FDFA 2022 priority” 
Warm-up by Pierre Alexandre Strauss, Counselor at the Swiss Mission to the UN: Geneva as the global health capital - what is coming up? 

Part 1: Presentation of Geneva-based multilateral health organizations: the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS, The Global Fund, the Global Alliance for Vaccine (GAVI). 
  • Sophie Delessert, programme manager Health multilateral organizations, Bern.
  • Simone Heri-Terrence, programme manager UNAIDS, SRHR & gender, Bern.

Part 2: Panel discussion on Global / bilateral synergies; impact and challenges working with Health Multilateral Organizations.
  • Marc de Santis (Head of Cooperation, Great Lakes region), 
  • Chantal Nicod (Regional health advisor, Tirana),  
  • Liliane Tarnutzer (Multilateral Network lead and Focal Point, Bern),
  • Pierre Alexandre Strauss (Counselor, Swiss Mission to the UN, Geneva).


​​Module 2 (20 April): Healt​h delivery in emergencies -  GVA-based non-health humanitarian MOs (ICRC, UNHCR, IOM, OCHA) 

Geneva is also a humanitarian hub and host of major humanitarian organizations. Most of them do implement emergency interventions in health. This second session will explore their role at the global and country level. 

​ ​This module explored the following key questions:
  • What are the specific focus of the SDC in supporting multilateral humanitarian organizations?
  • To what extent health is a priority in humanitarian interventions?
  • What are the health needs in emergency contexts?
  • How do humanitarian organizations respond to health emergencies of migrant populations?
  • Protection of the most vulnerable: why is health critical?
  • Beyond first aid: why and how shall we ensure a continuum of care once the emergency is over?


Session outline:

Brief introduction: “Effective multilateralism as a 2022 priority of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs"

Overview of the SDC support to multilateral humanitarian organizations: institutions and priorities.​

Part 1: Short presentations of selected Geneva-based humanitarian organizations: the International Organization for Migrations (IOM), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

  • Micaela Serafini, Head of Health, ICRC
  • Petra Khoury, Director of Health and Care Department or Lasha Goguadze, Senior Health Officer, IFRC
  • Andrew Mbala, Senior Migration Health Emergency Response Officer and Mireille Lembwadio, IOM

 > Download the presentation here.

​Part 2: Panel discussion with presenters. Stuart Wallis, Humanitarian Aid manager at the SDC also joint as panelist.​


​​Module 3 (19 May): Non GVA-based MOs in health: The World Bank, UNFPA, Unicef

In complement to the first two sessions, we will look at MOs with a broader mandate than health – their role and impact on policy setting and funding. The session will also include a panel discussion on cooperation modalities at country level (multi/bi; multi donors’ trust funds), including concrete country examples.​ 

We explored the following key questions:

  • To what extent health is a priority of these organizations?
  • What are the specific focus of the SDC in supporting multilateral organizations?
  • How does the SDC assess their organizational performance?
  • What are the modalities of collaboration at the global and country levels?

Part 1: Short presentations of Non GVA-based MOs in health: The World Bank, UNFPA, Unicef.

By SDC program managers:

  • Tobias Sommer – the World Bank
  • Bernhard Soland – UNFPA
  • Özge Aydogan - Unicef

 > Download the presentation here.​

Part 2: Panel discussion on country experiences in cooperation with the three MOs.

With SDC colleagues in countries:

  • Milton Saranga (Mozambique)
  • Viviane Hasselmann (Tanzania)
  • Muriithi Catherine Wangechi (Horn of Africa)


​​Module 4 (09 June): Thematic focus: Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and gender-based approaches in health

SRHR is a specific focus of the SDC both at the global and country levels. We looked at the SDC engagement on SRHR and the role of each organization– UNAIDS, UNFPA, SYP project (Southern Africa). The session provideed an overview of the dynamic and trends on global policy dialogue on SRHR.​

We explored the following key questions:

  • What are the dynamic and trends on global policy dialogue on SRHR?
  • What is the Swiss position in global policy dialogue?
  • Who are the main multilateral actors on SRHR?
  • To what extend is SRHR a focus of the SDC bilateral and global cooperation programs?

This webinar also looked at the UNFPA led Safeguard Young People (SYP) programme currently implemented with SDC support in various southern African countries (the factsheet is available here​).


Part 1: Guided interviews with SRHR experts

  • Liliane Schöpfer, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations, New York
  • Simone Heri-Terrence, Programme manager UNAIDS and gender focal point, SDC Bern
  • Renata Tallarico, Youth team lead a.i. and SYP Regional Coordinator, UNFPA Johannesburg Office
  • Hafid Derbal, Programme Coordinator Zimbabwe and South Africa, SRHR Desk, Terre des Hommes Schweiz


Part 2: Exchange on SRHR situation and ongoing projects with SDC colleagues from Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.  


​​Module 5 (18 August): How to better deliver at the country-level – synergies and complementing role among global health ​institutions

1. Fighting communicable diseases - The complementing roles and mandates of the WHO, UNAIDS and the Global Fund at the country level. 
2. COVID-19: equitable access to medical technologies, delivering at country level (TGF, Gavi, FIND, Unicef, Humanitarian buffer).

Covid-19 response – examples from our country-level support and discussion

We explored the following key questions:
  • What types of support did Switzerland provide on global and country-levels?
  • What lessons have we learned from interventions during this pandemic?
  • Where do we stand after two years of COVID-19?
  • How will this experience translate into future strategic orientation in the area of health both at global and bilateral levels?

This webinar was held internal to SDC as experiences were shared and a critical discussion lead on what we have achieved and learned for future interventions.
Guided interviews with the following colleagues were conducted:
  • ​​Séverine Weber and Thin Myat, SDC Myanmar;
  • ​​​Aimée Umurungi, SDC Rwanda;
  • Alma Zukorlic, SDC Bosnia & Herzegovina.
A discussion followed the interviews. 

Download the presentations below: