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World Health Organization (WHO)

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World Health Organization (WHO)
20 Avenue Appia
Geneva 27 1211
Organization type: 
United Nations System


WHO is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system.  WHO was set up when its Constitution came into force on 7 April 1948 – a date we now celebrate every year as World Health Day.

Our teams are comprised of medical doctors, public health specialists, scientists and epidemiologists, but also individuals who manage administrative, financial, and information systems, as well as experts in the fields of health statistics, economics, emergency relief, informatics, law, international relations and communications.


“WHO's work is about serving people, about serving humanity. Most importantly, it's about fighting to ensure the health of people as a basic human right.”
-Dr Tedros, WHO Director-General

Our goal is to build a better, healthier future for people all over the world. In order to ensure the highest attainable level of health for all people, WHO staff works side by side with governments and other partners.

Together, we strive to combat diseases – infectious diseases like influenza and HIV and noncommunicable ones like cancer and heart disease. We help mothers and children survive and thrive so they can look forward to a healthy old age. We ensure the safety of the air people breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink – and the medicines and vaccines they need.

Our main areas of our work are: 

WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus identifies core priorities of the Organization

- Health for all – universal health coverage
- health emergencies
- women, children, adolescents
- climate, environmental change
- a transformed WHO

WHO seeks to generate accessible, actionable, credible and timely information on health matters through multilingual, effective communications work to bring together international audiences and support health decision makers to apply effectively WHO’s public health advice and guidance. In partnerships with other global health actors, WHO works towards bringing health gains for populations worldwide.

WHO identifies, together with its Member States, the global leadership priorities that guide its work. Learn more about the current global leadership priorities of WHO here:


We support our 194 Member States as they coordinate the efforts of multiple sectors of the government and partners (national and international), funds and foundations, civil society organizations, professional expert associations and private sector – to attain their health objectives and support their national health policies and strategies. We are now more than 7000 people from more than 150 countries of origin working at the Headquarters office in Geneva, 6 Regional and 150 offices in countries, territories and areas. We provide advice, assistance, treatment, and care for health authorities in the countries. We work with partners from the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, civil society, affected communities. Our advocacy and resource mobilization work from all levels contributes for bringing sustainable health standards for all people.  


Governance takes place through the World Health Assembly, which is the supreme decision-making body; and the Executive Board, which gives effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly. The Organization is headed by the Director-General, who is appointed by the Health Assembly on the nomination of the Executive Board.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia is the Director-General of WHO. Elected by the World Health Assembly at its 70th session in May 2017, he took office on 1 July 2017 for a five-year term. Dr Tedros is the first WHO Director-General from Africa in the organization's nearly 70-year history.

I envision a world in which everyone can live healthy, productive lives, regardless of who they are or where they live. I believe the global commitment to sustainable development – enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals – offers a unique opportunity to address the social, economic and political determinants of health and improve the health and wellbeing of people everywhere.

Achieving this vision will require a strong, effective WHO that is able to meet emerging challenges and achieve the health objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals. We need a WHO – fit for the 21st century – that belongs to all, equally. We need a WHO that is efficiently managed, adequately resourced and results driven, with a strong focus on transparency, accountability and value for money.