The World Health Organization (WHO) set up the Collaborating Centre (CC) initiative in recognition that expert academic advice is often required in order to meet key aims and objectives set out as part of WHO’s strategic priorities.

WHO’s Cultural Contexts of Health (CCH) project was established in response to Health 2020, the framework guiding European policy on health and well-being.  Health 2020 identified the need to incorporate new forms of evidence from the medical humanities and social sciences to inform the design and implementation of culturally relevant and sensitive health policies and practices, and to enable countries to report more effectively on health and well-being.

The CCH project seeks to address key global health challenges from historical and cultural perspectives and to answer critical questions concerning the creation and maintenance of health and well-being across the life-course. By giving voice to peoples’ perspectives and lived experiences, the humanities and social sciences can contribute to more nuanced understandings of the ways that culture influences health and well-being, and in turn, facilitate the development of more effective public health policies.

The overall aim of the CCH project is to: enhance public health policy-making through a nuanced understanding of how cultural contexts affect health and health care.

What are the Centre’s aims?

Members of the Centre will explore how experiences of illness and medical knowledge are shaped by cultural practices and beliefs, both now and in the past. We want to see how evidence from the humanities and social sciences can be used to help to develop and evaluate innovative and effective public health initiatives.

The Centre has the following aims over the next five years:

  • To support WHO in strengthening and expanding its work on the Cultural Contexts of Health (CCH);
  • To work with WHO to produce and disseminate evidence to key stakeholders;
  • To support WHO research and development activities in CCH;
  • To support WHO in developing and promoting CCH tools and resources for policy makers and practitioners working in the fields of health and well-being.