World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency’s governing structure and principles, states its main objective as “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.
The WHO was established by constitution on 7 April 1948, which is commemorated as World Health Day. The WHO incorporated the assets and duties of the League of Nations’ Health Organisation and the Office International d’Hygiène Publique, including the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
The WHO’s broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well being. It provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey.
The WHA, the agency’s governing body, composed of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the agency’s supreme decision-making body. It also elects and advises an Executive Board made up of 34 health specialists. The WHA convenes annually and is responsible for selecting the Director-General, setting goals and priorities, and approving the WHO’s budget and activities.