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Focus: Prelims, GS-II International Institutions

Why in news?

All countries should make containing the outbreak of COVID-19 their top priority,

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on 6th May.


  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations that is concerned with world public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
  • It is an inter-governmental organization and works in collaboration with its member states usually through the Ministries of Health.
  • As of 2016, the WHO has 194 member states, WHO Member States appoint delegations to the World Health Assembly.
  • The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the legislative and supreme body of WHO, based in Geneva.

Publications of the WHO

  1. World Health Report
  2. Bulletin of the World Health Organization
  3. The worldwide World Health Survey
  4. Pan American Journal of Public Health
  5. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal
  6. Human Resources for Health (journal published in collaboration with BioMed Central)

Aims of WHO

  • To act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.
  • To establish and maintain effective collaboration with the United Nations, specialized agencies, governmental health administrations, professional groups and such other organizations as may be deemed appropriate.
  • To provide assistance to the Governments, upon request, in strengthening health services.
  • To promote cooperation among scientific and professional groups which contribute to the advancement of health.

Functions of WHO

The World Health Assembly (WHA) determines the policies of the Organization.

  • It supervises the financial policies of the Organization and reviews and approves the budget.
  • It reports to the Economic and Social Council in accordance with any agreement between the Organization and the United Nations.
  • WHO coordinates international efforts to control outbreaks & sponsors programs to prevent and treatment of infectious diseases such as SARS, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, and HIV/AIDS, the WHO also  such diseases.
  • The WHO supports the development and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, pharmaceutical diagnostics, and drugs, such as through the Expanded Program on Immunization.

After over two decades of fighting smallpox, the WHO declared in 1980 that the disease had been eradicated – the first disease in history to be eliminated by human effort.

India and WHO

  • India became a party to the WHO on 12 January 1948.
  • Regional office for South East Asia is located in New Delhi.
  • In 1967 the total number of smallpox cases recorded in India accounted for nearly 65% of all cases in the world.
  • In 1967, the WHO launched the Intensified Smallpox Eradication Programme.
  • With a coordinated effort by Indian government with the World Health Organization (WHO), smallpox was eradicated in 1977.
  • India began the battle against Polio in response to the WHO’s 1988 Global Polio Eradication Initiative with financial and technical help from World Bank.
  • The WHO Country Cooperation Strategy – India (2012-2017) has been jointly developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) and the WHO Country Office for India (WCO).

Polio Campaign-2012

  • The Indian Government, in partnership with UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contributed to almost universal awareness of the need to vaccinate all children under five against polio.
  • As a result of these efforts, India was removed from the list of endemic countries in 2014.

May 2024