World Health Organization

World Health Organization

Overview
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN) that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health
Public health
Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals" . It is concerned with threats to health based on population health...

. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.


The WHO's constitution states that its objective "is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health
Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

." The flag features the Rod of Asclepius
Rod of Asclepius
The rod of Asclepius , also known as the asklepian, is an ancient symbol associated with astrology, the Greek god Asclepius, and with medicine and healing. It consists of a serpent entwined around a staff. The name of the symbol derives from its early and widespread association with Asclepius, the...

 as a symbol for healing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the original agencies of the United Nations, its constitution formally coming into force on the first World Health Day
World Health Day
World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization .In 1948, the World Health Organization held the First World Health Assembly. The Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year, with effect from 1950, as the World Health Day...

, (7 April 1948), when it was ratified by the 26th member state.
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Encyclopedia
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN) that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health
Public health
Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals" . It is concerned with threats to health based on population health...

. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

Constitution and history



The WHO's constitution states that its objective "is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health
Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

." The flag features the Rod of Asclepius
Rod of Asclepius
The rod of Asclepius , also known as the asklepian, is an ancient symbol associated with astrology, the Greek god Asclepius, and with medicine and healing. It consists of a serpent entwined around a staff. The name of the symbol derives from its early and widespread association with Asclepius, the...

 as a symbol for healing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the original agencies of the United Nations, its constitution formally coming into force on the first World Health Day
World Health Day
World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization .In 1948, the World Health Organization held the First World Health Assembly. The Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year, with effect from 1950, as the World Health Day...

, (7 April 1948), when it was ratified by the 26th member state. Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru , often referred to with the epithet of Panditji, was an Indian statesman who became the first Prime Minister of independent India and became noted for his “neutralist” policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the...

, a major freedom fighter of India had given an opinion to start WHO. Prior to this its operations, as well as the remaining activities of the League of Nations Health Organization, were under the control of an Interim Commission following an International Health Conference in the summer of 1946. The transfer was authorized by a Resolution of the General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

. The epidemiological service of the French Office International d'Hygiène Publique
Office International d'Hygiène Publique
The Office International d'Hygiène Publique was an international organization founded 9 December 1907 and based in Paris, France. It was created to oversee international rules regarding the quarantining of ships and ports to prevent the spread of plague and cholera, and to administer other public...

was incorporated into the Interim Commission of the World Health Organization on 1 January 1947.

Activities


Apart from coordinating international efforts to control outbreaks of infectious disease, such as SARS
Severe acute respiratory syndrome
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is a respiratory disease in humans which is caused by the SARS coronavirus . Between November 2002 and July 2003 an outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong nearly became a pandemic, with 8,422 cases and 916 deaths worldwide according to the WHO...

, malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

, tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

, influenza
Influenza
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae , that affects birds and mammals...

, and HIV/AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

, the WHO also sponsors programs to prevent and treat such diseases. The WHO supports the development and distribution of safe and effective vaccine
Vaccine
A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe or its toxins...

s, pharmaceutical diagnostics, and drugs, such as through the Expanded Program on Immunization
Expanded program on immunization
The Expanded Program on Immunization is a World Health Organization program with the goal to make vaccines available to all children throughout the world.- History :...

. After over two decades of fighting smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

, the WHO declared in 1980 that the disease had been eradicated – the first disease in history to be eliminated by human effort. The WHO aims to eradicate polio
Poliomyelitis
Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an acute viral infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route...

 within the next few years.

The organization develops and promotes the use of evidence-based tools, norms and standards to support Member States to inform health policy options. It oversees the implementation of the International Health Regulations
International Health Regulations
The International Health Regulations 2005 are legally binding regulations that aim to a) assist countries to work together to save lives and livelihoods endangered by the spread of diseases and other health risks, and b) avoid unnecessary interference with international trade and travel.The...

, and publishes a series of medical classification
Medical classification
Medical classification, or medical coding, is the process of transforming descriptions of medical diagnoses and procedures into universal medical code numbers...

s including the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD), the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health
International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health
International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, also known as ICF, is a classification of the health components of functioning and disability....

 (ICF), and the International Classification of Health Interventions
International Classification of Health Interventions
The International Classification of Health Interventions is a system of classifying procedure codes being developed by the World Health Organization...

 (ICHI). The WHO regularly publishes a World Health Report
World Health Report
The World Health Report is a series of reports produced regularly by the World Health Organization . First published in 1995, the World Health Report is WHO's leading publication...

including an expert assessment of a specific global health
Global health
Global health is the health of populations in a global context and transcends the perspectives and concerns of individual nations. Health problems that transcend national borders or have a global political and economic impact, are often emphasized...

 topic. The organization has published tools for monitoring the capacity of national health system
Health system
A health system can be defined as the structured and interrelated set of all actors and institutions contributing to health improvement. The health system boundaries could then be referred to the concept of health action, which is "any set of activities whose primary intent is to improve or...

s and health workforces
Health Human Resources
Health human resources — also known as “human resources for health” or “health workforce” — is defined as “all people engaged in actions whose primary intent is to enhance health”, according to the World Health Organization's World Health Report 2006. Human resources for health are identified as...

 to meet primary health care
Primary health care
Primary health care, often abbreviated as “PHC”, has been defined as "essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost...

 goals. The organization has endorsed the world's first official HIV/AIDS Toolkit for Zimbabwe (from 3 October 2006), making it an international standard.

In addition, the WHO carries out various health-related campaigns – for example, to boost the consumption of fruits and vegetables worldwide and to discourage tobacco use. Each year, the organization marks World Health Day
World Health Day
World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization .In 1948, the World Health Organization held the First World Health Assembly. The Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year, with effect from 1950, as the World Health Day...

 focusing on a specific health promotion
Health promotion
Health promotion has been defined by the World Health Organization's 2005 Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in a Globalized World as "the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby improve their health"...

 topic.

WHO conducts or supports health research in areas of communicable diseases, reproductive health
Reproductive health
Within the framework of the World Health Organization's definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, reproductive health, or sexual health/hygiene, addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system...

, non-communicable conditions
Non-communicable disease
A non-communicable disease, or NCD, is a medical condition or disease which is non-infectious. NCDs are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. They include heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, and...

 and injuries, neglected tropical diseases, health policy and systems
Health system
A health system can be defined as the structured and interrelated set of all actors and institutions contributing to health improvement. The health system boundaries could then be referred to the concept of health action, which is "any set of activities whose primary intent is to improve or...

, and other areas, as well as improving access to health research and literature in developing countries such as through the HINARI
HINARI
HINARI is the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative. It was set up by the World Health Organization and major publishers to enable developing countries to access collections of biomedical and health literature. There are over 7000 journal titles available to health institutions in 109...

 network. The organization relies on the expertise and experience of many world-renowned scientists and professionals to inform its work, such as the WHO Expert Committee on Biological Standardization
WHO Expert Committee on Biological Standardization
WHO Expert Committee on Biological Standardization is a functioning body of World Health Organization. The Expert Committee has been meeting annually since 1947.-Reports:...

, the WHO Expert Committee on Leprosy
WHO Expert Committee on Leprosy
WHO Expert Committee on Leprosy is constituted by World Health Organization to study the worldwide progress of Leprosy.-Reports:* First report published as Technical Report Series No. 71 in 1954....

, and the WHO Study Group on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice
Interprofessional education
Interprofessional education refers to occasions when students from two or more professions in health and social care learn together during all or part of their professional training with the object of cultivating collaborative practice for providing client- or patient-centered health...

.

The WHO also promotes the development of capacities in Member States to use and produce research that addresses national needs, by bolstering national health research systems and promoting knowledge translation platforms such as the Evidence-Informed Policy Network (EVIPNet). WHO and its regional offices are working to develop regional policies on research for health
Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

 - the first one being the Pan American Health Organization/Regional Office for the Americas (PAHO/AMRO) that had its Policy on Research for Health approved in September 2009 by its 49th Directing Council Document CD 49.10.

The World Health Organization's suite of health studies is working to provide the needed health and well-being evidence through a variety of data collection platforms, including the World Health Survey covering 308,000 respondents aged 18+ years and 81,000 aged 50+ years from 70 countries, and the Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) covering over 50,000 persons aged 50+ across almost 23 countries. The WHO Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS), the WHO Quality of Life Instrument (WHOQOL), and the Service Availability Mapping (SAM) tool provide guidance for data collection in other health and health-related areas. Collaborative efforts between WHO and other agencies, such as through the Health Metrics Network
Health Metrics Network
The Health Metrics Network is a global partnership that facilitates better health information at country, regional and global levels. The Network was formally launched in May 2005 during the 58th session of the...

, serve the normative functions of setting high research standards.

WHO has also worked on global initiatives in surgery
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

 such as the Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care and the Guidelines for Essential Trauma Care focused on access and quality. Safe Surgery Saves Lives addresses the patient safety
Patient safety
Patient safety is a new healthcare discipline that emphasizes the reporting, analysis, and prevention of medical error that often leads to adverse healthcare events. The frequency and magnitude of avoidable adverse patient events was not well known until the 1990s, when multiple countries reported...

 in surgical care. The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist
WHO Surgical Safety Checklist
The World Health Organisation published the 'WHO Surgical Safety Checklist and Implementation Manual' in 2008 in order to increase the safety of patients undergoing surgery.- Overview :...

 is in current use worldwide in the effort to improve safety in surgical patients.

Main publications

  • Bulletin of the World Health Organization
    Bulletin of the World Health Organization
    The Bulletin of the World Health Organization is a monthly public health journal published by the World Health Organization that was established in 1947. It aims to give public health policy and practice guidance based on the best evidence available, while encouraging closer links between...

  • Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal
    Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal
    The Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal is a healthcare journal published by the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office of the World Health Organization. The journal publishes original research in the area of public health and related biomedical or technical subjects, with particular relevance to...

  • Human Resources for Health
    Human Resources for Health
    Human Resources for Health is a peer-reviewed, open-access, public health journal publishing original research and case studies on issues of information, planning, production, management, and governance of the health workforce, and their links with health care delivery and health outcomes,...

    , journal published in collaboration with BioMed Central
    BioMed Central
    BioMed Central is a UK-based, for-profit scientific publisher specialising in open access journal publication. BMC, and its sister companies Chemistry Central and PhysMath Central, publish over 200 scientific journals. Most BMC journals are now published only online. BMC describes itself as the...

  • Pan American Journal of Public Health
    Pan American Journal of Public Health
    The Pan American Journal of Public Health is a peer-reviewed open-access public health journal covering research and case studies on issues of public health significance, mainly in areas related to national and local health systems, to improve the health of the peoples of the Americas...

  • World Health Report
    World Health Report
    The World Health Report is a series of reports produced regularly by the World Health Organization . First published in 1995, the World Health Report is WHO's leading publication...

    , series of global health policy reports

Main international policy frameworks

  • International Health Regulations
    International Health Regulations
    The International Health Regulations 2005 are legally binding regulations that aim to a) assist countries to work together to save lives and livelihoods endangered by the spread of diseases and other health risks, and b) avoid unnecessary interference with international trade and travel.The...

  • International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes
    International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes
    The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is an international health policy framework for breastfeeding promotion adopted by the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization in 1981...

    , adopted in 1981
  • Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted in 2003
  • Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, adopted in 2010

Structure




The WHO has 193 Member state
Member state
A member state is a state that is a member of an international organisation.The World Trade Organization has members that are sovereign states and members that are not, thus WTO members are not called member states.- Worldwide :...

s, including 192 members of the UN (all except Liechtenstein), the Cook Islands
Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

 and Niue
Niue
Niue , is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to...

.

Non-state territories of UN Member States may join as Associate Members (with full information but limited participation and voting rights) if approved by an Assembly vote: Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 and Tokelau
Tokelau
Tokelau is a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean that consists of three tropical coral atolls with a combined land area of 10 km2 and a population of approximately 1,400...

 are Associate Members.

The following states and entities were granted observer status
Observer status
Observer status is a privilege granted by some organizations to non-members to give them an ability to participate in the organization's activities. Observer status is often granted by intergovernmental organizations to non-member states and international nongovernmental organizations that have...

: Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 (a UN observer), Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 (UN observer), Order of Malta (UN observer) and the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 (Taiwan, under the name of "Chinese Taipei
Chinese Taipei
Chinese Taipei is the designated name used by the Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan, to participate in some international organizations and almost all sporting events, such as the Olympics, Paralympics, Asian Games and Asian Para Games...

").

Non-members of the WHO are Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein
The Principality of Liechtenstein is a doubly landlocked alpine country in Central Europe, bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and by Austria to the east. Its area is just over , and it has an estimated population of 35,000. Its capital is Vaduz. The biggest town is Schaan...

 and the rest of states with limited diplomatic recognition
Diplomatic recognition
Diplomatic recognition in international law is a unilateral political act with domestic and international legal consequences, whereby a state acknowledges an act or status of another state or government in control of a state...

.

WHO Member States appoint delegations to the World Health Assembly
World Health Assembly
The World Health Assembly is the forum through which the World Health Organization is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world's highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states....

, WHO's supreme decision-making body. All UN member states are eligible for WHO membership, and, according to the WHO web site, “other countries may be admitted as members when their application has been approved by a simple majority vote of the World Health Assembly.”

The WHO Assembly generally meets in May each year. In addition to appointing the Director-General every five years, the Assembly considers the financial policies of the Organization and reviews and approves the proposed programme budget. The Assembly elects 34 members, technically qualified in the field of health, to the Executive Board for three-year terms. The main functions of the Board are to carry out the decisions and policies of the Assembly, to advise it and to facilitate its work in general.

The WHO is financed by contributions from member states and donors. In recent years, the WHO's work has involved increasing collaboration with external bodies; there are currently around 80 partnerships ("official relations" and "working relations") with NGO
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

s and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as with foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a prominent philanthropic organization and private foundation based at 420 Fifth Avenue, New York City. The preeminent institution established by the six-generation Rockefeller family, it was founded by John D. Rockefeller , along with his son John D. Rockefeller, Jr...

. By 2007, voluntary contributions to the WHO from national and local governments, foundations and NGOs, other UN organizations, and the private sector, were more than double the level of assessed contributions (dues) from the 193 member nations.

In addition to the observer states and entities listed above, the UN observer organizations International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is a humanitarian institution that is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement along with the ICRC and 186 distinct National Societies...

 have entered into "official relations" with the WHO and are invited as observers. In the World Health Assembly
World Health Assembly
The World Health Assembly is the forum through which the World Health Organization is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world's highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states....

 they are seated along the other NGOs.

Regional offices


Uncharacteristically for a UN Agency, the six Regional Offices of the WHO enjoy remarkable autonomy. Each Regional Office is headed by a Regional Director (RD), who is elected by the Regional Committee for a once-renewable five-year term. The name of the RD-elect is transmitted to the WHO Executive Board in Geneva, which proceeds to confirm the appointment. It is rare that an elected Regional Director is not confirmed.

Each Regional Committee of the WHO consists of all the Health Department heads, in all the governments of the countries that constitute the Region. Aside from electing the Regional Director, the Regional Committee is also in charge of setting the guidelines for the implementation, within the region, of the Health and other policies adopted by the World Health Assembly
World Health Assembly
The World Health Assembly is the forum through which the World Health Organization is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world's highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states....

. The Regional Committee also serves as a progress review board for the actions of the WHO within the Region.

The Regional Director is effectively the head of the WHO for his or her Region. The RD manages and/or supervises a staff of health and other experts at the regional headquarters and in specialized centres. The RD is also the direct supervising authority—concomitantly with the WHO Director General—of all the heads of WHO country offices, known as WHO Representatives, within the Region.

The Regional Offices are:
  • Regional Office for Africa (AFRO)I, with headquarters in Brazzaville
    Brazzaville
    -Transport:The city is home to Maya-Maya Airport and a railway station on the Congo-Ocean Railway. It is also an important river port, with ferries sailing to Kinshasa and to Bangui via Impfondo...

    , Republic of Congo. AFRO includes most of Africa, with the exception of Egypt
    Egypt
    Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

    , Sudan
    Sudan
    Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

    , Tunisia
    Tunisia
    Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

    , Libya
    Libya
    Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

    , Somalia
    Somalia
    Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

     and Morocco
    Morocco
    Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

    , which belong to EMRO.
  • Regional Office for Europe (EURO), with headquarters in Copenhagen
    Copenhagen
    Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

    , Denmark
    Denmark
    Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

    . Israel
    Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

     is served by EURO.
  • Regional Office for South East Asia (SEARO), with headquarters in New Delhi
    New Delhi
    New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

    , India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

    . North Korea
    North Korea
    The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

     is served by SEARO.
  • Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO), with headquarters in Cairo
    Cairo
    Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

    , Egypt
    Egypt
    Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

    . EMRO includes the countries of Africa, and particularly in the Maghreb
    Maghreb
    The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

    , that are not included in AFRO, as well as the countries of the Middle East, except for Israel. Pakistan
    Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

     is served by EMRO.
  • Regional Office for Western Pacific (WPRO), with headquarters in Manila
    Manila
    Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

    , Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    . WPRO covers all the Asian countries not served by SEARO and EMRO, and all the countries in Oceania
    Oceania
    Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

    . South Korea
    South Korea
    The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

     is served by WPRO.
  • Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO), with headquarters in Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

    , USA
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    . It is better known as the Pan American Health Organization
    Pan American Health Organization
    The Pan American Health Organization is an international public health agency with over 100 years of experience working to improve health and living standards of the people of the Americas...

     (PAHO). Since it predates the establishment of WHO, PAHO is by far the most autonomous of the 6 regional offices.

WHO liaison and other offices


WHO has a number of specialist offices/agencies, as well as liaison offices at the most important international institutions.
  • IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer
    International Agency for Research on Cancer
    The International Agency for Research on Cancer is an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organisation of the United Nations....

     (Lyon, France)
  • WHO Centre for Health Development
    WHO Centre for Health Development
    The WHO Centre for Health Development is an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organisation of the United Nations....

     – WHO Kobe Center (Kobe, Japan)
  • WHO Lyon Office for National Epidemic Preparedness and Response (LYO) (Lyon, France)
  • WHO Mediterranean Centre for Vulnerability Reduction (Tunisia)
  • WHO Office at the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
  • WHO Liaison Office in Washington (USA)
  • WHO Office at the European Union (Brussels, Belgium)
  • WHO Office at the United Nations (New York, USA)
  • WHO Office at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (Washington, USA)

Country offices



The World Health Organization operates 147 country and liaison offices in all its regions. The presence of a country office is generally motivated by a need, stated by the member country. There will generally be one WHO country office in the capital, occasionally accompanied by satellite-offices in the provinces or sub-regions of the country in question.

The country office is headed by a WHO Representative (WR), who is an internationally experienced physician or other health professional, not a national of that country, who holds diplomatic rank and is due privileges and immunities similar to those of an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

. In most countries, the WR (like Representatives of other UN agencies) is de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

and/or de jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

treated like an Ambassador – the distinction here being that instead of being an Ambassador of one sovereign country to another, the WR is a senior UN civil servant, who serves as the "Ambassador" of the WHO to the country to which he or she is accredited. Hence, the title of Resident Representative
Resident Representative
A Resident Representative is the head of a United Nations agency in a given country. As such, the Resident Representative has the same rank as an ambassador of a foreign state accredited to that country, under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations....

, or simply Representative. The WR is member of the UN system country Team which is coordinated by the UN system resident Coordinator
Resident Coordinator
A United Nations Resident Coordinator is the highest United Nations official and the chief of UN diplomatic mission in a country . It confers the same rank as an Ambassador of a foreign state...

.

The country office consists of the WR, and several health and other experts, both foreign and local, as well as the necessary support staff. The main functions of WHO country offices include being the primary adviser of that country's government in matters of health and pharmaceutical policies.

International liaison offices serve largely the same purpose as country offices, but generally on a smaller scale. These are often found in countries that want WHO presence and cooperation, but do not have the major health system
Health system
A health system can be defined as the structured and interrelated set of all actors and institutions contributing to health improvement. The health system boundaries could then be referred to the concept of health action, which is "any set of activities whose primary intent is to improve or...

 flaws that require the presence of a full-blown country office. Liaison offices are headed by a liaison officer, who is a national from that particular country, and place without diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments that ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws...

.

Director-General


The head of the organization is the Director-General (DG), appointed by the World Health Assembly
World Health Assembly
The World Health Assembly is the forum through which the World Health Organization is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world's highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states....

.

The current DG is Margaret Chan
Margaret Chan
Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, OBE JP is the Director-General of the World Health Organization . Chan was elected by the Executive Board of the WHO on 8 November 2006, and was endorsed in a special meeting of the World Health Assembly on the following day...

, who was appointed on 9 November 2006.

Former DGs include Lee Jong-wook
Lee Jong-wook
-Memorial award:The South Korean government officially announced the establishment of the a Memorial Prize in Dr. Lee's memory. After his death, You Si min, the Minister of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea, officially revealed the plans concerning the new awards and urged other nations...

 (in office 2003-2006), Gro Harlem Brundtland
Gro Harlem Brundtland
Gro Harlem Brundtland is a Norwegian Social democratic politician, diplomat, and physician, and an international leader in sustainable development and public health. She served three terms as Prime Minister of Norway , and has served as the Director General of the World Health Organization...

 (1998–2003), Hiroshi Nakajima
Hiroshi Nakajima
is a Japanese doctor. He was born in Chiba, Japan, on 16 May 1928. Nakajima received his M.D. from Tokyo Medical University, Japan. Dr Nakajima joined WHO in 1974 in the position of Scientist, Drug Evaluation and Monitoring. In 1976, he became Chief of the WHO Drug Policies and Management Unit...

 (1988–1998), Halfdan T. Mahler
Halfdan T. Mahler
Halfdan T. Mahler, born on 21 April 1923 at Vivild, is a Danish medical doctor. Dr. Mahler served three terms as director-general of the World Health Organization and is widely known for his effort to combat tuberculosis and his role in shaping the landmark Alma Ata Declaration that defined the...

 (1973–1988), Marcolino Gomes Candau
Marcolino Gomes Candau
Marcolino Gomes Candau . Dr Candau joined the staff of the World Health Organization in Geneva in 1950 as Director of the Division of Organization of Health Services. Within a year, he was appointed Assistant Director-General in charge of Advisory Services...

 (1953–1973), and Brock Chisholm
Brock Chisholm
George Brock Chisholm, CC, MC & Bar was a Canadian First World War veteran, medical practitioner, and the first Director-General of the World Health Organization...

 (1948–1953).

Anders Nordström
Anders Nordström
Anders Nordström is a Swedish physician who served as Acting Director-General of the World Health Organization from 22 May 2006 to 8 November 2006....

 was Acting DG for six months in 2006 following the death of Dr Lee while in office.

Staffing


The World Health Organization is an agency of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and as such shares a core of common personnel policy with other UN agencies.

In support of the principle of a tobacco-free work environment the WHO will not recruit cigarette smokers. The organization had successfully rallied 168 countries to sign the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003. The Convention is designed to push for effective legislation and its enforcement in all countries to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco.

Goodwill Ambassadors



International film star Jet Li
Jet Li
The fame gained by his sports winnings led to a career as a martial arts film star, beginning in mainland China and then continuing into Hong Kong. Li acquired his screen name in 1982 in the Philippines when a publicity company thought his real name was too hard to pronounce...

 was appointed a WHO Goodwill Ambassador by Director-General Margaret Chan
Margaret Chan
Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, OBE JP is the Director-General of the World Health Organization . Chan was elected by the Executive Board of the WHO on 8 November 2006, and was endorsed in a special meeting of the World Health Assembly on the following day...

 on 3 April 2009.

American Nancy Brinker
Nancy Brinker
Nancy Goodman Brinker is the founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization named after her only sister, Susan, who died from breast cancer in 1980 at age 36. Brinker was also United States Ambassador to Hungary from 2001 to 2003 and Chief of Protocol of the United States from...

 was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 Control on 26 May 2009.

Chinese vocal artist, Ms Peng Liyuan
Peng Liyuan
Peng Liyuan is one of the top Chinese folk music singers, and a performer popularized by her regular appearances on the annual CCTV New Year's Gala, a widely viewed mainland Chinese television program that airs during Chinese New Year...

, was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 and HIV/AIDS on 3 June 2011.

IAEA - Agreement WHA 12-40



In 1959, the WHO signed Agreement WHA 12-40 with the International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 (IAEA), which some have claimed prevents the WHO from independently researching the effects on human health of radiations caused by the use of nuclear power, for examples after nuclear disasters. The agreement states - specifically in Article 1, Paragraph 2 - that the WHO recognises the IAEA as having responsibility for peaceful nuclear energy without prejudice to the roles of the WHO of promoting health. However, the following paragraph adds: "Whenever either organization proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organization has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement." This last statement, which stresses the requirement for mutual agreement, has led some observers to question whether this effectively jeopardizes the WHO's independence when assessing matters relating to nuclear power.

Condom promotion, religion and AIDS



In 2003, the WHO denounced the Roman Curia
Roman Curia
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope...

's health department's opposition to the use of condom
Condom
A condom is a barrier device most commonly used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy and spreading sexually transmitted diseases . It is put on a man's erect penis and physically blocks ejaculated semen from entering the body of a sexual partner...

s, saying: "These incorrect statements about condoms and HIV are dangerous when we are facing a global pandemic which has already killed more than 20 million people, and currently affects at least 42 million."

In 2009, the World Health Assembly
World Health Assembly
The World Health Assembly is the forum through which the World Health Organization is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world's highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states....

 President, Guyana's Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy, condemned Pope Benedict's call for ending condom use in the fight against AIDS, saying he was trying to "create confusion" and "impede" proven strategies in the battle against the disease.

Intermittent Preventive Therapy


The aggressive support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world, founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. It is "driven by the interests and passions of the Gates family"...

 for intermittent preventive therapy
Intermittent preventive therapy
Intermittent preventive therapy is a public health intervention aimed at treating and preventing malaria episodes in infants , children , schoolchildren and pregnant women...

 of malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 which included the commissioning a report from the Institute of Medicine
Institute of Medicine
The Institute of Medicine is a not-for-profit, non-governmental American organization founded in 1970, under the congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences...

 triggered a memo from the former WHO malaria chief Dr. Akira Kochi. Dr. Kochi wrote, “although it was less and less straightforward that the health agency should recommend IPTi, the agency’s objections were met with intense and aggressive opposition from Gates-backed scientists and the foundation”.

Diet and sugar intake


Some of the research undertaken or supported by WHO to determine how people's lifestyles and environments are influencing whether they live in better or worse health
Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

 can be controversial, as illustrated by a 2003 joint WHO/FAO report on nutrition and the prevention of chronic non-communicable disease
Non-communicable disease
A non-communicable disease, or NCD, is a medical condition or disease which is non-infectious. NCDs are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. They include heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, and...

, which recommended that sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

 should form no more than 10% of a healthy diet
Healthy diet
A healthy diet is one that helps maintain or improve general health. It is important for lowering many chronic health risks, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. A healthy diet involves consuming appropriate amounts of all essential nutrients and an adequate amount of...

. This report led to lobbying by the sugar industry against the recommendation, to which the WHO/FAO responded by including in the report the statement "The Consultation recognized that a population goal for free sugars of less than 10% of total energy is controversial", but also stood by its recommendation based upon its own analysis of scientific studies.

2009 influenza pandemic



In 2007, the WHO organized work on pandemic influenza vaccine development through clinical trial
Clinical trial
Clinical trials are a set of procedures in medical research and drug development that are conducted to allow safety and efficacy data to be collected for health interventions...

s in collaboration with many experts. A pandemic involving the H1N1 influenza virus was declared by Director-General Margaret Chan
Margaret Chan
Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, OBE JP is the Director-General of the World Health Organization . Chan was elected by the Executive Board of the WHO on 8 November 2006, and was endorsed in a special meeting of the World Health Assembly on the following day...

 in April 2009, but by the post-pandemic period critics claimed the WHO had exaggerated the danger, spreading "fear and confusion" rather than "immediate information". Industry experts counter that the 2009 pandemic had led to "unprecedented collaboration between global health
Global health
Global health is the health of populations in a global context and transcends the perspectives and concerns of individual nations. Health problems that transcend national borders or have a global political and economic impact, are often emphasized...

 authorities, scientists and manufacturers, resulting in the most comprehensive pandemic response ever undertaken, with a number of vaccines approved for use three months after the pandemic declaration. This response was only possible because of the extensive preparations undertaken in during the last decade."

See also


  • Global health
    Global health
    Global health is the health of populations in a global context and transcends the perspectives and concerns of individual nations. Health problems that transcend national borders or have a global political and economic impact, are often emphasized...

  • Global Mental Health
    Global Mental Health
    The World Health Organization defines mental health as a 'state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community'.The term Global...

  • Health for all
    Health For All
    Health For All is a programming goal of the World Health Organization , which envisions securing the health and well being of people around the world that has been popularized since the 1970s...

  • Health promotion
    Health promotion
    Health promotion has been defined by the World Health Organization's 2005 Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in a Globalized World as "the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby improve their health"...

  • International Health Regulations
    International Health Regulations
    The International Health Regulations 2005 are legally binding regulations that aim to a) assist countries to work together to save lives and livelihoods endangered by the spread of diseases and other health risks, and b) avoid unnecessary interference with international trade and travel.The...

  • International standards for drinking water
    International standards for drinking water
    Drinking water quality standards describes the quality parameters set for drinking water . Despite the truism that every human on this planet needs drinking water to survive and that water can contain many harmful constituents, there are no universally recognised and accepted international...

  • Millennium Development Goals
    Millennium Development Goals
    The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals that all 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015...

  • Pan American Health Organization
    Pan American Health Organization
    The Pan American Health Organization is an international public health agency with over 100 years of experience working to improve health and living standards of the people of the Americas...

  • Public health
    Public health
    Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals" . It is concerned with threats to health based on population health...

  • World Health Day
    World Health Day
    World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization .In 1948, the World Health Organization held the First World Health Assembly. The Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year, with effect from 1950, as the World Health Day...

  • High 5 Project, a patient safety collaboration
  • Healthy city
    Healthy city
    Healthy city is a term used in public health and urban design to stress the impact of policy on human health. Its modern form derives from a World Health Organization initiative on Healthy Cities and Villages in 1986, but has a history dating back to the mid 19th century...

     / Alliance for Healthy Cities
    Alliance for Healthy Cities
    The Alliance for Healthy Cities is a cooperative international alliance aimed at protecting and enhancing the health and health care of city dwellers. It is composed of groups of cities, urban districts and other organizations from countries around the world in exchanging information to achieve...

    , an international alliance
  • Health Sciences Online
    Health Sciences Online
    Health Sciences Online is a non-profit online health information resource that launched in December 2008. The website hosts a virtual learning center providing weblinks to a collection of more than 50,000 courses, references, textbooks, guidelines, lectures, presentations, cases, articles, images...

    , virtual learning resources
  • Open Learning for Development
    Open Learning for Development
    Open Learning for Development is an effort to provide free learning with the ultimate goal of helping developing countries around the world. The Open Training Platform is a UNESCO-driven hub offering free training resources on a wide range of development topics, fostering cooperation to provide...

    , virtual learning resources

External links