Little Bits of History

WHO’s Your Caregiver?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 8, 2011

Flag of the World Health Organization

April 7, 1948: The World Health Organization [WHO] is founded. The headquarters for this agency of the United Nations is located in Geneva, Switzerland. As the UN followed the League of Nations, so too did the WHO follow the Heath Organization. The objective of WHO is “the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health.” Its constitution formally came into force on the first World Health Day when it was ratified by the 26th member nation.

Members of WHO are the 191 nations of the UN and the Cook Islands and Niue. There are also Associate Members such as Puerto Rico and Tokelau. There are states with observer status such as Palestine, the Holy See, the Order of Malta and Chinese Taipei. Non-members are Liechtenstein and all other states with limited diplomatic recognition. Member States appoint delegates to the World Health Assembly – the supreme decision making body. This body meets each May and appoints a Director-General as well as takes care of fiduciary business. They select 34 members [each to a three year term] to the Executive Board.

Dr. Margaret Chan is the current Director-General. The WHO has a six point agenda – two health objectives, two strategic needs, and two operational approaches. The first goal is to promote development. There is a focus to address both chronic diseases and to address neglected tropical disease issues. The second goal is to foster health security. The WHO monitors endemics and pandemics which have risen in both numbers and intensity because of changing ways in which we live. The urbanization of the globe as well as the mismanagement of the environment have affected our overall health culture.

Strengthening health systems and harnessing research, information and evidence are the two strategic needs we all face. Health services need to reach all citizens, especially the poor. It is imperative that facilities are provided, funded, and staffed so that all people are given the chance to receive adequate health care. The dissemination of information is also needed. The two operational approaches are enhancing partnerships and improving performance. Global health is a vast undertaking and the proper use of limited resources must be husbanded for the greatest use. Looking at measurable outcomes allows the WHO and the world at large to see if these goals are being achieved.

“I want my leadership to be judged by the impact of our work on the health of two populations: women and the people of Africa.” – Margaret Chan

“It is not only disingenuous, but also shabby education, not to point out that, according to the World Health Organization, average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.4 years and rising, while that number is as low as 48 years in Tanzania.” – from Town Hall

“Patient safety is one of the most pressing issues facing the healthcare industry today. The World Health Organization estimates that in developed countries as many as one in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care.” – from

“When polio erupted in Central Asia last year, the World Health Organization vaccinated 6 million kids in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, at a cost of less than $2 million.” – Susan E. Rice

Also on this day:
Light My Fire – In 1827 John Walker develops a new match.
Internet Born – in 1969, RFC-1 was published.

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