About WHO

How we buy

WHO buys goods and services from various countries through WHO Headquarter, Regional Offices and different Country Offices in the following six regions:

In WHO responsibility for procurement is based on three tier system, which is at Global level, Regional Office level and at the Country Office level. The Major Offices will enter into contracts with vendors, which may be companies or individuals or organizations. The Contract Review Committee (CRC) ensures that procurement undertaken by the WHO Major Offices complies with relevant guidelines, and that procurement risks are properly assessed and mitigated and also finally best value for money and interest of organization is fully achieved.

Community research team educating family.
Eco-bio research project in Santa Cruz, Bolivia investigating how to reduce Chagas transmission.

As a public organization, WHO must strictly adhere to the Organization financial rules and regulations, which mandate that contracts be awarded through a competitive process, obtaining bids through formal tenders or through pre-qualified suppliers for specialized items. To ensure consistency across all Major offices, WHO uses standard templates for bidding documents, available in English and French in some Regions.

WHO procure through recommended suppliers for most of their requirements for goods and services. WHO also procure some products under Pre-Qualification Programme (PQP), main objective of PQP is close cooperation with national regulatory agencies and partner organizations and aims to make quality priority medicines available for the benefit of those in need. This is achieved through its evaluation and inspection activities. Some of the WHO requirements are posted on the United Nations Global Marketplace and WHO procurement website under tender alerts.

Procurement workflow for goods & services

Procurement methods

Request for quotation (RFQ)

A Request for Quotation (RFQ) is an informal invitation to submit a quotation, used for goods valued below USD 25,000. Depending on the complexity of the requirement, vendors will be given minimum 7 business days to respond to an RFQ.Prices, and other commercial terms and conditions are requested and award is usually made to the lowest priced and technically acceptable offer.

Invitation to bids (ITB)

An invitation to bid (ITB) is used for two types of solicitation methods in WHO, one is procurement request with estimated value between USD25,000 to USD200,000, with this method of solicitation there is no public bid opening. Other is a formal invitation to submit quote for procurement over USD200,000 with a requirement of public bid opening. ITB is usually associated with requirements that are clearly and concisely defined. Normally price is the sole determinant in making an award. Where all technical criteria are met, an award is made to the lowest evaluated and responsive bidder. Vendors will normally be given 15 business days or more to respond, depending on the complexity of the requirement.

Request for proposal (RFP)

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a formal request to submit a proposal usually associated with requirements for services, which cannot be clearly or concisely defined. Price is only one of several factors comprising the evaluation criteria. Award is made to the qualified bidder whose bid substantially conforms to the requirement set forth on the solicitation documents and is evaluated to be the lowest cost and responsive to WHO. Vendors are normally given 15 business days or more to respond to an RFP.

Exceptionally and when it is deemed in the best interest of WHO, procurement staff may buy goods or services through Direct Contracting as per procedures in eManual.

The following table provides a summary of the various procurement methods

Procurement Method Type of Requirement Market Conditions Method of Solicitation Type of Competition
RFQ Goods Competitive Market Place/Prequalified Request for Quote to Pre-qualified Suppliers or public tendering Global/Regional or Local
ITB Goods/Services Competitive Market Place/Prequalified Formal Invitation to Prequalified Suppliers or public tendering Global/Regional or Local
RFP Services Competitive Market Place/Prequalified Formal Invitation to Prequalified Suppliers or public tendering Global/Regional/Local
Direct Contracting Goods/Services Emergency situation Direct Invitation or Negotiation No Competition
Time critical activities
Standardization of equipment
Non availability of goods or services in locally or regionally market

Evaluation of offers

Each procurement method has different evaluation criteria. When evaluating RFQs and ITBs, the price is normally the most important element. In contrast to this, an RFP relies mostly on a technical evaluation. The technical component primarily determines whether the proposal will be accepted or declined. Evaluation is done through pre-set criteria, which are clearly indicated on the bidding documents.

When examining, evaluating and comparing offers, WHO may consider price as well as non-price factors, which include cost (operation, maintenance, after sales service, repairs); delivery/completion time; functional characteristics; terms of payment/guarantee; a vendor’s performance record with WHO and other UN agencies; and the vendor’s presence in the local market.

WHO makes every effort to ensure a quick turnaround of the evaluation process.

Contract award

Every six months, WHO publishes on its "contract awards" page a list of contracts for acquired goods and services of a value of USD 25 000 or more. This information is published with due observance of the requirements of confidentiality and security.

Terms of contract

In order to become a vendor to WHO, you must accept the General Terms and Conditions of Contract . A copy of these GTCs is included in bidding documents. WHO procurement staff may not modify these terms of contract, and any alterations require the advice and consent of the Legal Office.

  • General terms and conditions for goods
  • General conditions of contract for services
  • General conditions for purchase orders

General terms and conditions