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World Health Organisation

The World Health Organization (WHO) was created in 1948 by member states of the United Nations (UN) as a specialized agency with a broad mandate for health. The WHO is the world's leading health organization. Its policies and programs have a far-reaching impact on the status of international public health.

Defined by its constitution as "the directing and coordinating authority on international health work," WHO aims at "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible standard of health." Its mission is to improve people's lives, to reduce the burdens of disease and poverty, and to provide access to responsive health care for all people.

The WHO operates from six regional offices worldwide and national offices in about 150 countries. Budget and policy oversight for the organization is provided by the World Health Assembly, which includes representatives of more than 190 countries. 

Early Years of the WHO : During the early years of WHO much of its resources were devoted to the fight against the major communicable diseases. Mass campaigns were waged against malaria, trachoma, yaws, and typhus, among others. Malaria turned out to be a more complex problem than anticipated, and early efforts at eradication had to be scaled back to the level of control. Efforts to improve maternal and child health services included the training of traditional birth attendants—an approach advocated by UNICEF, WHO's close partner in all child-health projects—to reduce infant and maternal deaths. WHO also followed up on the work done by its predecessor organizations on sanitary conventions. It adopted, in 1951, the International Sanitary Regulations, later (in 1971) renamed the International Health Regulations.

WHO in 1960s - 1970s : Beginning in the 1960s, WHO began an effort to extend health services to rural populations. In 1974, recognizing the underutilization of existing technologies to fight childhood diseases, WHO launched an expanded immunization program against polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, and tuberculosis.

In the late 1970s the focus began to change after the Primary Care conference in Alma Ata. The early 1980s saw the development of Health for All by the Year 2000.


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