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World Health Organization: Who Are They and What They Do?

The World Health Organization is an agency founded by the United States of America with the aim to improve public health all over the world. The year of the foundation of the WHO was 1948. On 7th April in 1948, the World Health Organization’s headquarters were founded in Switzerland’s Geneva. The WHO is a part of the famous United Nations Development Group.

History of the World Health Organization

The predecessors of the World Health Organization were the International Sanitary Conferences that was held for the first time in the year 1851, on 23rd June. The International Sanitary Conferences fought to eradicate many diseases like yellow fever, bubonic plague, and cholera for 14 years between 1851 and 1938. The first 6 conferences were not much effective. The seventh conference of 1892 was a great success. After the formation of the League of Nations in the year 1920, a health organization was established by them. All health organizations were absorbed by the United Nations after the end of the Second World War and the World Health Organization was formed.

Objectives of the World Health Organization

The constitution of the World Health Organization asserts that its intention “is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health.”

The Constitution of the WHO clearly states its functions:

  • To be the coordinating and directing authority on health work all over the world
  • To help governments, when requested, to strengthen their health facilities
  • To be in good terms with the United Nations, governmental health institutions, specialized agencies, and other professional groups
  • To provide technical assistance and other aids to governments when asked for
  • To work incessantly to eradicate endemic, epidemic and several other diseases
  • To promote the improvement of world nutrition, recreation, sanitation, housing, working or economic conditions and several other issues of hygiene
  • To ensure cooperation among professional and scientific groups
  • To suggest conventions, regulations, and agreements for matters concerning international health

In the year 2012, its role to be performed for the betterment of public health has been redefined by WHO. Some of those functions are:

  • CRVS for monitoring important events such as birth, wedding, death, and divorce
  • Articulating policy options based on ethics and proper evidence
  • Leading critical health-related movements
  • Setting standards and norms and monitoring whether they are implemented or not, etc.

Regional Offices of the World Health Organization

The constitution of the World Health Organization’s article 44 mentions the existence of its regional offices.  At the regional level, they make several important decisions. A Regional Committee is there in every region and it meets once every year, usually in Autumn season. All region offices of the World Health Organization have a Regional Director who is the head of the organization in his own region. He supervises all activities performed by the World Health Organization in his area.

The Regional Offices of the WHO are in Brazzaville, Washington, DC, Cairo, Copenhagen, Manila and New Delhi.

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