World Health Organisation (WHO)

What is the World Health Organisation?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the leading international organisation in healthcare. It is responsible for providing guidance on health matters, setting standards and monitoring health trends. The WHO also works to improve access to healthcare and to promote health equity.

The WHO was founded in 1948 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The organisation has a staff of over 7,000 and a budget of over US$4 billion. The WHO is a member of the United Nations system and works closely with other UN agencies, such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The WHO's work is divided into six main areas:

  • Health promotion
  • Disease prevention
  • Health protection
  • Access to healthcare
  • Health equity
  • Research and development

The WHO's work in health promotion includes raising awareness of health issues and promoting healthy lifestyles. The organisation works to prevent disease by providing immunisation and disease control programmes. It also works to protect people's health by monitoring food safety and environmental health.

The WHO strives to improve access to healthcare by providing essential medicines and health technologies. It also works to ensure that all people have equitable access to healthcare. The WHO's research and development work includes developing new vaccines and medicines, and improving health information systems.

The WHO is the world's leading authority on public health. The organisation provides guidance on health matters, sets standards and monitors health trends. The WHO also works to improve access to healthcare and to promote health equity.

What are the World Health Organisation's priorities?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the leading international organisation in healthcare. Its priorities are to promote health, prevent disease and injury, and to relieve suffering.

The WHO's work is guided by its constitution, which states that its objective "is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health".

The WHO's primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system. It does this by working with governments, non-governmental organisations, and other partners.

The WHO has a number of programmes and initiatives which aim to improve health globally. These include:

  • The Global Health Observatory, which provides data and analysis on global health
  • The World Health Report, which provides an annual assessment of global health
  • The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which aims to eradicate polio
  • The Global Malaria Programme, which aims to reduce the burden of malaria
  • The Global Immunization Programme, which aims to increase immunization rates

The WHO also provides guidance on health issues, such as:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Tuberculosis
  • Malaria
  • Nutrition
  • Noncommunicable diseases
  • Physical activity

The WHO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has regional offices in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.

What does the World Health Organisation do?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

The WHO Constitution, which was adopted by the International Health Conference in New York in 1946 and came into force on 7 April 1948, sets out the Organisation’s fundamental principles, including its commitment to the highest attainable standard of health for all people.

The WHO’s primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system. To this end, the WHO:

  • Provides leadership on global health matters
  • Shapes the health research agenda
  • Sets norms and standards
  • Articulates evidence-based policy options
  • Provides technical support to countries
  • Monitors and assesses health trends

The WHO also has a mandate to promote and protect the health of all people, regardless of nationality. In carrying out its work, the WHO focuses on six strategic priorities:

  • Promoting health through the life-course
  • Supporting countries in achieving Universal Health Coverage
  • Protecting against health emergencies
  • Strengthening health systems
  • Harnessing data and digital technology for health
  • Engaging broadly to build a healthier world

The WHO’s work is guided by the WHO Constitution, which sets out the Organisation’s fundamental principles, including its commitment to the highest attainable standard of health for all people.

The WHO’s primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system.