Learn about WHO: WHO full form, the functions of WHO, the role of the World Health Organisation and their contributions to world healthcare.


The United Nations’ specialised organisation for health, the World Health Organization (WHO), was established in 1948. The organisation’s headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland. There are 194 Member States, 150 Country Offices, and six Regional Offices in the Organisation. It is an intergovernmental organisation that collaborates with its member nations, generally through their health ministries.


The WHO leads the global health issues by setting the research agenda, establishing norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy alternatives, helping nations with technical assistance, and monitoring and analysing health trends. It began operations on April 7, 1948, now observed as World Health Day every year.


Goals of WHO

WHO’s mission revolves around ensuring that all people have access to the best possible health facilities. The organisation has a wide range of functions that support its principal goal. These include;

  • Assume the role of supreme authority in international healthcare.
  • To encourage technological collaboration in the field of healthcare.
  • To help various governments in improving healthcare services.
  • On the request or acceptance of governments, provide adequate technical assistance in crises and essential relief.
  • To begin and continue efforts on the epidemic, endemic, and other disease prevention and control.
  • To encourage, if required, the improvement of nutrition, housing facilities, sanitation, recreation, economic or working circumstances, and other areas of environmental hygiene in collaboration with other specialised agencies outside and inside the United Nations.
  • To encourage global biomedical and health services research.
  • To encourage higher teaching and training standards in the healthcare, medical, and allied professions.
  • To develop worldwide standards for biological, pharmaceutical, and other related goods and standardise diagnostic processes.
  • To encourage initiatives in mental health.

Structure of WHO

World Health Organization Assembly


Delegates representing members make up the Health Assembly. Each member is represented by a maximum of three delegates, one of whom is appointed as a head delegate by the member. These delegates are chosen from among those with the highest technical expertise in health, ideally representing the Member’s national health administration. The Health Assembly holds regular annual sessions and special sessions on occasion.


Functions of WHO

The Health Assembly decides the organisation’s policies.

It oversees the organisation’s financial policy and examines and approves the budget.

In line with any agreement between the organisation and the United Nations, it reports to the Economic and Social Council.


The Secretariat


The Secretariat comprises the Director-General and other technical and administrative employees.

The Health Assembly appoints the Director-General on the board’s nomination and terms determined by the Assembly.


Associate Membership and Membership


Members of the United Nations can join the organisation as members. Associate Members are territories or groupings of territories that are not accountable for the conduct of their foreign affairs.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Contribution

WHO’s national offices are the organisation’s main points of contact with governments. They offer health-related technical assistance, communicate important global standards and recommendations, and convey government requests and needs to WHO’s other levels. They also keep the host government informed about illness outbreaks outside the nation and follow up with them.

They give public health advice and guidance to other UN agency offices in the country. WHO also collaborates with other UN agencies, funders, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and the corporate sector, in addition to governments.

All nations, including the most developed, can take advantage of WHO’s worldwide health activities. For example, all countries gained from their contribution to WHO initiatives that resulted in the global elimination of some diseases and control of many others.

India and the World Health Organization

On January 12, 1948, India became a World Health Organisation (WHO) member. The regional office for South-East Asia is located in New Delhi. 


The total number of smallpox cases reported in India in 1967 accounted for roughly 65 per cent of all cases worldwide. Of these, 26,225 patients perished, painting a bleak picture of the uphill battle. The World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated the Intensified Smallpox Eradication Programme in 1967. Smallpox was eliminated in 1977, thanks to a joint effort by the Indian government and the World Health Organisation (WHO).


With financial and technical assistance from the World Bank, India initiated the fight against the illness in response to the WHO’s 1988 Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The Indian government, in collaboration with UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helped to raise almost universal awareness of the need to vaccinate all children under the age of five against polio in 2012. India was removed from the list of endemic nations in 2014 due to these initiatives.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) is a United Nations specialised body that investigates public health issues. It’s headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and was founded on April 7, 1948. The WHO  is led by its Director-General. The WHO now has 194 member nations. The only way to become a full member of the WHO is to approve the treaty known as the World Health Organisation’s Constitution. The goal of WHO, according to its constitution, is for “all people to achieve the best attainable level of health.”