World Health Organization, UN’s Specialized Agency of Health

WHO is the United Nations specialized agency for Health. It is an inter-governmental organization and works in collaboration with its member states usually through the Ministries of Health. WHO objective is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health. WHO's Secretariat is staffed by health professionals, other experts and support staff working at headquarters in Geneva, six regional offices and country offices. In carrying out its activities, WHO's secretariat focuses its work on the following six core functions:

  • Articulating consistent, ethical and evidence-based policy and advocacy positions
  • Managing information by assessing trends and comparing performance; setting the agenda for, and stimulating research and development
  • Catalysing change through technical and policy support, in ways that stimulate cooperation and action and help to build sustainable national and inter-country capacity
  • Negotiating and sustaining national and global partnerships
  • Setting, validating, monitoring and pursuing proper implementation of norms and standards
  • Stimulating the development and testing of new technologies, tools and guidelines for disease control, risk reduction, health care management, and service delivery

Activity Areas in India

In India, WHO provides technical assistance and collaborates with the Government of India and major stakeholders in health development efforts. It assists notably in Policy Development; Capacity Building and Advocacy. Technical assistance to the Government is provided through the following:

Core Programme Clusters
  • Communicable Diseases and Surveillance including Leprosy; Malaria; Filariasis; Tuberculosis; HIV/AIDS and International Health Regulations.
  • Evidence & Information for Policy including National Health Accounts, Policies, Medical Ethics, Information System; Burden of Diseases, Essential Drugs and Medicines, World Health Survey, Health Finance, Trade Agreements and Reform Issues.
  • Family and Community Health including Reproductive Health and Research, Child and Adolescent Health, Gender and Women Health, Immunization and Vaccine Development including Hepatitis B, Nursing and Midwifery, Nutrition and Development and AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy).
  • Social Change and Non-Communicable Diseases including Cardiovascular Diseases; Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Disability, Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation, Tobacco Control, Health Care for the Elderly, Prevention of Deafness, Prevention of Blindness, Health Promotion, Oral Health; Cancer, Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factors Surveillance and other Non-Communicable Diseases.
  • Sustainable Development and Healthy Environment including Chemical Safety, Emergency & Humanitarian Action, Food Safety, Health & Environment; Healthy Cities; Environmental Epidemiology and Water Sanitation.

Special Programmes
National Polio Surveillance Progranmme, Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Emergency and Humanitarian Action in Gujarat and Rajasthan, Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, 3 by 5 for HIV / AIDS, Leprosy Elimination, Roll Back Malaria, Tobacco Free Initiative, Lymphatic Filariasis and Health Internetwork.
External Collaboration and Partnerships
Recently WHO has worked closely with the government on health issues in the aftermath of the tsunami, and for epidemic outbreaks like the Japanese Enciphilitis. WHO is also working with the MOH in the pandemic preparedness plans for the Avian Influenza.

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