Who’s WHO?

April 7, 2008


The World Health Organisation (WHO) is celebrating its 60th birthday today 7th April.


In 1945 diplomats met to form the United Nations. They discussed setting up a global health organisation and in 1948 on the 7th April the WHO’s Constitution came into force. Every year on the 7th April World Health Day is now celebrated within 193 member states.


For almost 60 years the WHO has provided leadership for global health matters, shape health research, supply evidence for health policy options, provide technical support to countries in need and help monitor and assess health trends.


The functions and frameworks that the organisation works to are explained fully in their 11th General Programme of Work.


Dr Margaret Chan, the Director of the WHO said that the organisations main concerns “rest with disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. These groups are often hidden, live in remote rural areas or shantytowns and have little political voice”


How will this years World health day be celebrated?


The sixtieth celebrations of the WHO will be themed “protecting health from climate change”. The WHO has selected this theme as climate change is increasingly posing threat to public security.


The WHO operates to a six point agenda to approach public health problems. This addresses two health objectives, two strategic needs and two operational approaches in order to make a positive impact on our health. The 60th anniversary will be celebrated at different activities and events throughout the year which will highlight and emphasise their six key agenda that they work by and follow.


Examples of how world health day will be celebrated;


  • International photo exhibition– this will contain photo’s that document the history of the WHO that highlights the milestones and the challenges of the future of the WHO.


  • Global snapshots of public health– people all over the world will be invited to take photos capturing their health during the same hour of the day. These pictures could document their personal wellbeing, the health of their families or communities, photos of those that provide their care as well as images documenting the difficulties accessing health services. The images will be collected and will construct a brochure as well as a website.


  • Historical podcasts– audio and interviews of the founding of the WHO and other health milestones will feature on the WHO’s website.


  • Video presentation– this will be played as a tribute to the WHO’s 60th anniversary at the World Health Assembly in May and used again during other key activities and events. People of all ages, race and gender will all collaborate together with leading figures of the WHO to express their views on their work so far and ideas for development in the future.


Dr Chan said today that the WHO’s core concern at the moment is how climate change endangers health. Climate sensitive diseases such as malnutrition causes 3.5 million deaths per year, diarrhoeal diseases cause over 1.8 million deaths and malaria contributes to almost 1 million deaths per year.


The WHO are coordinating and supporting research and assessments on effective measures to protect health from climate change. Areas most vulnerable to health problems are women and children in developing countries which the WHO is helping to advise and adapt changes to their health systems to protect their populations.


Dr Chan said the WHO were increasing their efforts to protect public health from the consequences of climate change “ the WHO and its partners are devising a research agenda to get better estimates of the scale and nature of health vulnerability and to identify strategies and tools for health protection”.


One Response to “Who’s WHO?”

  1. Nice roundup -but I wonder whether you needed a separate post for that? Instead it’s hidden.

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