The World Health Organization (also known as WHO) is an agency of the United Nations. It is responsible for public health on a global level. The WHO Constitution establishes the agency’s structure and regulations, as well as its main adjective to ensure all living people attain the best possible level of health. Currently, its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WHO has a fairly broad mandate. It includes advocating for universal healthcare, improving public health risks, responding to global health emergencies, and promoting improved health worldwide. The organization as a whole provides assistance on the technical side to different countries and sets global health standards and guidelines. The WHO also collects data on global health problems via the World Health Survey.

The WHO’s publication, World Health Report, provides readers with expert scientific and medical assessments of international health topics and statistics.

This organization has played a very important role in some notable public health achievements throughout the years. Specifically, the WHO assisted in the eradication of smallpox, the (near) eradication of polio, and the creation of the Ebola vaccine. The WHO is currently still involved in finding a cure for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and cancer.

The WHO is kept afloat via contributions from member states and private donors. The organization has a budget of about $4.2 billion, most of which comes from voluntary non-assessed contributions. Philanthropist Bill Gates provides approximately 9.4% of the WHO’s funding via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

« Back to Programmatic Glossary Index