The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system.
Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.
When diplomats met to form the United Nations in 1945, one of the things they discussed was setting up a global health organization. WHO began when their Constitution came into force on 7 April 1948 – a date they now celebrate every year as World Health Day. There are now more than 7000 people from more than 150 countries working in 150 country offices, in 6 regional offices and at their headquarters in Geneva.
What they do
WHO works worldwide to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. Their goal is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being.
For universal health coverage, they:
- focus on primary health care to improve access to quality essential services
- work towards sustainable financing and financial protection
- improve access to essential medicines and health products
- train the health workforce and advise on labour policies
- support people's participation in national health policies
- improve monitoring, data and information.
For health emergencies, they:
- prepare for emergencies by identifying, mitigating and managing risks
- prevent emergencies and support development of tools necessary during outbreaks
- detect and respond to acute health emergencies
- support delivery of essential health services in fragile settings.
For health and well-being they:
- address social determinants
- promote intersectoral approaches for health
- prioritize health in all policies and healthy settings.
Through their work, they address:
- human capital across the life-course
- noncommunicable diseases prevention
- mental health promotion
- climate change in small island developing states
- antimicrobial resistance
- elimination and eradication of high-impact communicable diseases.
Involvement in COVAX
COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to this pandemic. Bringing together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, with the aim of providing innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. The COVAX pillar is focussed on the latter. It is the only truly global solution to this pandemic because it is the only effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by CEPI, Gavi and WHO – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.
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- , World Health Organisation (WHO), Accessed: 9 February, 2021