The World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations' agency for health. The organization focuses on four main areas, led by health intervention efforts, such as control and prevention of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Other WHO priorities include support for government health programs; development of health policies, products, and systems; and efforts related to determinants of health, such as food safety and nutrition. 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. The WHO was founded in 1948.
Along with UNICEF, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Rotary International, the organization is committed to eradicating poliomyelitis. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, launched in 1988, has immunized more than two billion children and reduced the number of polio cases by more than 99%. Another WHO concern has been new infectious diseases, such as the H1N1 virus (swine flu) and avian (bird) flu. The organization has pushed for the adoption of international health regulations -- rules outlining what countries should do to identify such diseases and keep them from spreading.
The WHO also responds to disasters, such as the devastating earthquake the leveled Haiti in January 2010. The organization is leading the United Nation's health response to the crisis.
Voluntary contributions from countries and agencies account for more than 70% of the WHO's budget; dues from countries account for the rest. – less