Source description last updated: 19 October 2011.
“WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.” (WHO Website,, accessed on 13 June 2008)
“When diplomats met to form the United Nations in 1945, one of the things they discussed was setting up a global health organization. WHO’s Constitution came into force on 7 April 1948.“ (WHO Website,, accessed on 13 June 2008)
“All countries which are Members of the United Nations may become members of WHO by accepting its Constitution. Other countries may be admitted as members when their application has been approved by a simple majority vote of the World Health Assembly.“ “Members of WHO are grouped according to regional distribution“ and today, WHO has 193 Member States in total (WHO Website,, accessed on 13 June 2008).
“More than 8000 people from more than 150 countries work for the Organization in 147 country offices, six regional offices and at the headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.“ (WHO Website,, accessed on 13 June 2008)
Target group:
International community; governments and policymakers; international as well as local organisations working in the field of health; donor agencies; universities; teaching hospitals and schools; journalists; and general public.
The World Health Organization’s main objectives are: Promoting development; fostering health security; strengthening health systems; harnessing research, information and evidence; enhancing partnerships; and improving performance (WHO Website,, accessed on 13 June 2008).
WHO fulfils its objectives through its core functions:
- providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
- shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
- setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
- articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
- providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity; and
- monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends (WHO Website,, accessed on 13 June 2008).
Voluntary contributions represent 72 percent of the total financial resources of the WHO. Assessed contributions from Member States form 28 percent (WHO Resources 2006 – 2007,, accessed on 13 June 2008).
Voluntary contributions include: Voluntary contributions from member states (vast majority); contributions from UN and intergovernmental organisations; foundations; NGOs; supply services funds; interest incomes; donations of local governments, cities and institutions; and contributions of the private sector (WHO: Source of voluntary contributions,, accessed on 13 June 2008).
For further details, see: (accessed on 19 October 2011).
Scope of reporting:
Geographic scope: Most countries worldwide.
Thematic scope: The whole range of health related topics, including: mortality rates; HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases; disease outbreaks and emergencies; nutrition disorders; drug and equipment supply; water and sanitation; medical care, hospitals and access to health services; health systems and health reforms; health of mothers, children and the youth; child malnutrition; immunisation programmes; health determinants and statistics; health supplies and human resources; mental disorders and mental health system; alcohol and tobacco consumption; demographic and socio-economic context, health financing; the consequences of natural disasters; epidemiological data, etc.
Reporting methodology:
WHO reports are prepared and written by WHO’s staff working in regional and country offices in cooperation with a wide rage of WHO partners (WHO has official relations with 186 NGOs all over the world and maintains relations also with many other international as well as national institutions and organisations).
Information contained in the reports is gathered first-hand by WHO staff or staff of project partners; or is gathered from the reports of other organisations, institutions and agencies, such as UN agencies, the World Bank, national ministries of health, statistical institutes and research centres, regional or local NGOs, etc.
In the process of preparation of reports, advice, contributions and support are given by a number of professionals, who also review the text.
Publication cycle:
The majority of reports and information is published or updated irregularly. Some of the reports are periodical reports, including the World Health Report; Health in the Americas; Country Health Information Profiles; Country Health System Fact Sheets; Annual Reports; etc.
English; some of the reports are also published in other official languages of the UN (French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese).
Navigation of website:
Home: Latest news; latest situation reports; disease outbreaks and crises.
Countries: Search for information by country (by selecting a particular country, you will obtain information on: Overview of the health situation; disease outbreaks and crises; mortality and burden of disease; health service; risk factors (such as chronic diseases, child malnutrition, access to water and sanitation, etc.); and health systems)
Health topics: Search for information on a topic covered by WHO (including publications, fact sheets and related links); you may limit the information on a particular region or country.
Relevant information can also be found on the websites of the WHO Regional Offices.
Additional references:
WHO Constitution (accessed on 19 October 2011)
Wikipedia: World Health Organization (accessed on 13 June 2008)
Sourcewatch: World Health Organization (accessed on 13 June 2008)
WHO Regional Office for Africa (accessed on 13 June 2008)
WHO Regional Office for the Americas (Pan American Health Organization) (accessed on 13 June 2008)
WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia (accessed on 13 June 2008)
WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (accessed on 13 June 2008)
WHO Regional Office for Europe (accessed on 13 June 2008)
WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific (accessed on 13 June 2008)
All documents available on from this source