by Lucy Lindsay
World Health Organisation
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts produce health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through WHO, governments can jointly tackle global health problems and improve people’s well-being.
193 countries and two associate members are WHO’s membership. They meet every year at the World Health Assembly in Geneva to set policy for the Organization, approve the Organization’s budget, and every five years, to appoint the Director-General. Their work is supported by the 34-member Executive Board, which is elected by the Health Assembly.
Six regional committees focus on health matters of a regional nature.
WHO fulfills its objectives through its main functions:
- Providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
- shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
- setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
- articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
- providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity; and
- monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.
These core functions are set out in the 11th General Programme of Work, which provides the framework for organization-wide programme of work, budget, resources and results. Entitled "Engaging for health", it covers the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015.
Methods to making the world a better place!
As many as two billion people around the world face health threats every day. People in more than 45 countries are currently experiencing emergencies as a result of natural disasters, economic crises, or conflict. The Health Action in Crises team works with Member States and other partners to minimize suffering and death in all crisis situations – whether they are highly publicized, such as the Tsunami in South Asia, or hidden and forgotten, such as the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. WHO works in countries to help national authorities and communities to prepare by strengthening overall capacity to manage all types of crises; to respond by ensuring effective and timely action to address public health priorities; to recover by ensuring that local health systems are functioning; and to mitigate against the effects of crises on public health.