World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, it succeeded the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and its headquarters are located at Geneva. WHO flag features the Rod of Asclepius as a symbol for healing.


The head of the organization is the Director-General (DG), appointed by the World Health Assembly. The current DG is Margaret Chan, who was appointed on 9 November 2006 {her term is 2006 to 2017}.

World Health Day

Jawaharlal Nehru had given an opinion to start WHO. The World Health Organization (WHO) came into existence on first World Health Day, (7 April 1948), when it was ratified by the 26th member state.


WHO coordinates international efforts to control outbreaks & sponsors programs to prevent and treatment of infectious diseases such as SARS, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, and HIV/AIDS, the WHO also  such diseases. The WHO supports the development and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, pharmaceutical diagnostics, and drugs, such as through the Expanded Program on Immunization. After over two decades of fighting smallpox, the WHO declared in 1980 that the disease had been eradicated – the first disease in history to be eliminated by human effort. The WHO aims to eradicate polio within the next few years.


  • Bulletin of the World Health Organization
  • Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal
  • Human Resources for Health, journal published in collaboration with BioMed Central
  • Pan American Journal of Public Health
  • World Health Report, series of global health policy reports


The WHO has 193 Member states, including 192 members of the UN (all except Liechtenstein), the Cook Islands and Niue. Non-state territories of UN Member States may join as Associate Members (with full information but limited participation and voting rights) if approved by an Assembly vote: Puerto Rico and Tokelau are Associate Members. Palestine, Holy See, Order of Malta and Republic of China (Taiwan, under the name of “Chinese Taipei”) are observers.  Non-members of the WHO are Liechtenstein and the rest of states with limited diplomatic recognition.

Regional offices:

  • Africa; HQ: Brazzaville, Congo
  • Americas; HQ: Washington, DC, USA
  • Europe; HQ: Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Eastern Med.; HQ: Cairo, Egypt
  • South East Asia; HQ: New Delhi, India
  • Western Pacific; HQ: Manila, Philippines

The above 6 Regional Offices of the WHO enjoy remarkable autonomy. Each Regional Office is headed by a Regional Director (RD), who is elected by the Regional Committee for a once-renewable five-year term. The name of the RD-elect is transmitted to the WHO Executive Board in Geneva, which proceeds to confirm the appointment. It is rare that an elected Regional Director is not confirmed.

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