The World Health Organisation
Founded in 1948, the World Health Organization leads the world
alliance for health for all. A specialized agency of the United
Nations with 191 Member Sates, WHO promotes technical cooperation for
health among nations, carries out programmes to control and eradicate
disease, and strives to improve the quality of human life.
WHO has four main functions:
* to give worldwide guidance in the field of health
* to set global standards for health
* to cooperate with governments in strengthening national health
* to develop and transfer appropriate health technology, information
The WHO definition of health:
'Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being
and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.'
A major event in WHO's first fifty years was the global eradication of
smallpox. This disease scarred and killed millions before being
officially declared eradicated in 1980. Eradication resulted in a huge
reduction in human suffering and great financial savings. The United
States alone saves its entire investment in the eradication programme
every month because costly protection measures are no longer needed.
Other diseases such as polio and guinea-worm disease are on the verge
of eradication and, thanks to new and better methods of treatment,
leprosy is also being overcome.
But, as well as fighting infectious diseases, WHO is a key player in
promoting primary health care, delivering essential drugs, making
cities healthier, building partnerships for health, promoting healthy
lifestyles and environments to achieve health for all.
Health Promotion and the Environment:
WHO has initiated successful health promotion projects, such as
Healthy Cities and Villages, Healthy Islands and Health-Promoting
Schools, Hospitals and Work Sites. Some projects target vulnerable
populations such as the elderly and women. Others focus on encouraging
healthy lifestyles, sexual health and tobacco-free societies.
The impact of the environment on health is a high priority for WHO.
One example is access to safe drinking water. WHO puts the highest
priority on the development of community water supplies and sanitation
facilities with the AFRICA 2000 initiative. WHO is deeply concerned