World Health Organization (WHO)
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a major branch of the United Nations whose major responsibility is to focus on public health. WHO has been very instrumental in the promotion of health and contributing to health policies across its member states.
Since its inception, it has taken great strides in the reduction and eradication of certain diseases. For example, its efforts led to the eradication of smallpox, whose last reported case was in 1979 in East Africa. Another major success in its quest is the increase in general life expectancy from 48 in 1995 to approximately 69 by the year 1985.
WHO was established in the year 1946 with a membership of sixty one countries. By then the member countries were referred to the League of Nations. They held their first meeting in the year 1948. Currently they have a membership of 194 countries and is headed by Margaret Chan as the director general.
In 1974 the WHO implemented immunization of children against polio, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis and tetanus. This was geared towards the adoption of advanced medical technology in the promotion of children’s health.
In 1979, WHO in collaboration with UNICEF held a conference in Alma-Alta. Among the many resolutions, one of the resolutions that has had an impact even in the way disease prevention is carried out currently is the adoption of lay health workers. These workers were to monitor disease from the grassroots, especially in the rural areas. In 1980, WHO in a quest to promote the health of expectant mothers set out on a campaign against acute respiratory infections. This led to a great decrease in mortality rate.
In 1982, WHO adopted a strategy to empower the people on ways to improve their communication. This was in an effort to promote people’s awareness on health issues so that they can be empowered to make an informed decision regarding their own health. This strategy has helped in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The WHO is divided into three sections, namely the health assembly, the executive board and the secretariat. The health assembly is the governing body of the organization. It convenes its meeting yearly meeting in Geneva every May. Its major role is on coming up with the policies and planning about the budget . The assembly also has the responsibility of appointing the director general every five years.
The main headquarters of the organization is in Geneva, Switzerland. It also has regional headquarters distributed across the continents.
- Europe region- Copenhagen
- Eastern Mediterranean- Cairo, Egypt
- South East Asia- Harare
- Africa- Harare, Zimbabwe
- America- Washington, DC
Some of the major health concerns by WHO include:
- The campaign to reduce and possibly eradicate communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Zika Virus and such.
- Prevention and reduction of communicable diseases.
- Promotion of mental health by raising awareness of the various types of mental disorders prevalent and how they can be cured and managed.
- Reduction of maternal deaths so as to promote children’s health
- Provision of safe water and clean sanitation
- Provision of adequate food supply and healthy nutrition.
WHO is also involved in the publication of world health report and the world health survey. These publications are effective in informing the readers and the health sector on what successes the organization has achieved in the promotion of health. It has also partnered with approximately 470 other Non-governmental organization. Some of those organizations include Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and Rockefeller foundation.