WHO, the World Health Organization is a United Nations agency whose focus and mandate is International Public Health.
It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Some basic facts about WHO:
- 7th of April 1948: the World Health Organisation (WHO) is formed and the International Classification of Disease (ICD) passes on all responsibilities, formerly in their hands, to WHO.
- In 1948 WHO’s top priorities are: malaria, women’s and children’s health, tuberculosis, venereal disease, nutrition, and environmental sanitation. In 1950, over 50 million people are affected by these diseases and issues. (In later years, WHO also played a pivotal role in addressing new international public health issues such as HIV/AIDS.)
- 1952: Dr Jonas Salk develops the polio vaccine.
- Also in 1952, WHO draws attention to Yaws – a crippling and disfiguring disease – by forming the “global yaws control programme.” Using long-acting penicillin, they were able to treat yaws with a single injection and were thus able, 15 years later, to eradicate 95% of the disease worldwide.
- 1967: the first heart transplant is carried out by the S. African surgeon, Barnard.
- 1974: WHO creates a long term programme to provide basic vaccines to all the world’s children.
- 1974: WHO begins its efforts to eliminate river blindness from West Africa.
- 1979: Smallpox is eradicated globally.
- 1983: the Institute Pasteur in France identifies the HIV virus.
- In 1988: over 99% of Polio cases are eliminated as 20 million volunteers and health workers worldwide help to ensure the mobility and health of five million children, who would otherwise have been paralysed, as well as save more than 1.5 million children from certain death.
In addition, by 2002, 600,000 cases of blindness have been prevented and 18 million local children have been spared from the disease. Local farmers re-claim 25 million hectares of fertile river land that had been abondoned.
- 2003: the Global Public Health Treaty is signed. Its mandate is to “reduce tobacco-related deaths and diseases around the world.”
- 2003: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is recognized and controlled.
- 2004: A strategy to address the issues and concerns relating to Diet, Physical Activity and Health is formed.
WHO staff which are more than 7,000 people from more than 150 countries includes; administrative, financial and information systems specialists, health statistics and fields experts, economics, emergency relief experts as well as medical doctors, public health specialists, researchers and epidemiologists.
WHO Regional offices:
- Africa: Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.
- Europe: Copenhagen, Denmark.
- South-East Asia: New Delhi, India.
- Eastern Mediterranean: Cairo, Egypt.
- Western Pacific: Manila, Philippines.
- The Americas: Washington D.C., USA.