The World Health Organisation (WHO) was established in 1948 as a specialized agency department of the United Nations that would monitor public health. The main priorities of WHO is to combat disease, especially infectious diseases, and to generally promote good health levels and practices around the world. Its constitution states that its objective ‘is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health’ and as such in the UK the NHS operates policies set by the WHO.
WHO has been active in the fight against AIDS, SARS and malaria and creates programs to prevent and treat these and other such diseases. A great success for the Organisation was the announcement of the elimination of smallpox in 1980 which was the first disease in history to be eliminated by human effort. The WHO is also very near to developing vaccines against malaria and aims to eliminate polio within the next few years. Other campaigns work on encouraging healthy lifestyles and educating on the importance of a healthy diet. One such example is the promotion of eating fruit and vegetables to be healthier and also the campaigns to discourage the use of tobacco.
Funding for all of the WHO’s work and campaigns comes from the countries that are members of the organisation and also from donors. It should be stated that although funding comes from member countries this does not limit the WHO’s actions and they are active in all countries worldwide if needed.