The World Health Organization (WHO) is an agency of the United Nations that is responsible for international public health. It was established on April 7, 1948 and it is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide. Its main objective is to ensure the attainment of the highest possible level of health by all peoples.
The WHO has a broad mandate which includes promotion of universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable, and promoting human health and well being. Apart from that it also provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey.
World Health Assembly:
It is the decision-making body of WHO, composed of representatives from all 194 member states. The World Health Assembly is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.
The Executive Board is composed of 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year terms. The annual Board meeting is held in January in Geneva, Switzerland when the members agree upon the agenda for the World Health Assembly and the resolutions to be considered by the Health Assembly. Currently Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the Director-General of WHO.
The WHO, which also serves as a forum for summits and discussions on health issues, played an important role in several achievements in public health. Among the many is the eradication of smallpox, the near-eradication of polio, and the development of an Ebola vaccine. It also deals with communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, healthy diet, nutrition and food security, occupational health and substance abuse.
As of February 2020 it has chaired meetings with world scientists at its Geneva headquarters over the COVID-19 outbreak to assess the current level of knowledge about the new virus. The purpose of the meeting is to agree on critical research questions that need to be answered urgently, and also on finding ways to work together to accelerate and fund priority research that can contribute to curtail the outbreak and prepare for future outbreaks.