The scope for greater involvement of NGOs in WHO's programme activities was signalled at the World Health Assembly (WHA) by Resolution WHA 47.13. The Director-General of WHO was requested to "encourage contacts with bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, with organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, bilateral and multilateral agencies, with consumers, industry, nongovernmental organizations and other collaborators".8 This created an opportunity for increased interaction between WHO and national and international NGOs, even those who are not in official relations with WHO.
However, no general policy has yet been formulated that covers interaction between WHO programmes and NGOs in informal relations with WHO. Suggestions on collaboration and coordination of activities have been made, though, in individual programmes; for example, during the DAP Management Advisory Committee (MAC) meeting in 1995. During that meeting collaboration was defined as, "the agreement of two or more parties to work together. It may entail nothing more than an understanding regarding mutual communication or it may extend to formal agreements to share various aspects of support so as to obtain a common goal. Coordination is, on the other hand, a more structured and controlled integration of various inputs into planned and well-defined outputs."9
The distinction between collaboration and coordination is important. Coordination implies some kind of control, while collaboration is rather a partnership between equal partners. Regarding the latter, the WHA called on WHO to provide "Conceptual leadership and advocacy in mobilizing and coordinating a global collaborative effort to improve the world drug situation."10 However, the MAC had previously recognized that the most serious challenge facing countries today regarding collaboration and coordination is not a lack of cooperative activities, but rather that the scale of activities is insufficient to meet country needs.9 Finally, it is worth keeping in mind that collaboration, although frequently worthwhile, can be very difficult and requires substantial resources.