Following the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the organization was heavily criticized for its bureaucracy, insufficient financing, regional structure, and staffing profile.


It is impossible to objectively and fairly assess the functioning of WHO as a whole.

It may in fact be impossible to assess WHO’s functioning in individual policy areas in a manner that is objective, fair and just.

Another words since the World Health Organization (WHO) was founded in 1948, the development of many new institutions in the field of health challenges its original vision as the ‘directing and coordinating body on international health work.

In a world with increasing isolation, tension and recourse to violence, it is clear that the Red Cross Red Crescent must champion the individual and community values which encourage respect for other human beings and a willingness to work together to find solutions to community problems.The Movement’s seven Fundamental Principles as they stand today were unanimously adopted in 1965 by the 20th International Conference of the Red Cross.

Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

Health is vitally important for every human being in the world. Global health matters to everyone, not just to those living in developing countries. The Movement is independent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Since 15 June 2007, the world has been implementing the International Health Regulations (IHR).

WHO evolved from a body principally aimed at the control of infectious diseases to a more holistic approach to the improvement of health characterized in the 1970s by the slogan ‘Health for All.

The International Health Regulations are a legally binding international agreement that govern the roles of the World Health Organization and its Member States around the globe in identifying, sharing information about, and responding to public health events that may have international consequences.
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Under Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland in the 1990s a serious attempt was made to refocus WHO and raise its status as a player in the development policy arena, but with mixed success and limited sustainability.

More recently WHO’s chronic financial problems, characterized by excessive dependence on voluntary short-term funding by donors, have precipitated another round of reform.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the body of the United Nations (UN) responsible for directing and coordinating health.

The United Nations’ system is comprised of the UN itself and more than 30 affiliated organizations — known as programs, funds, and specialized agencies — with their own membership, leadership, and budget processes. Many of these Programs and funds overlap each other.

For example.

UNICEF, United Nations Children’s Fund provides long-term humanitarian and development assistance to children and mothers. Recent UNICEF initiatives have included polio immunization for 5.5 million children in Angola when WHO is supposed to be responsible for global vaccination campaigns.

A WORTHY  FUND that is giving today’s children a chance to grow into useful and happier citizens, it contributes to removing some of the seeds of world tension and future conflicts.

 UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund– UNFPA works on the ground in 140 nations to “ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS is co-sponsored by 10 UN system agencies: UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, the ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank and has ten goals related to stopping and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

As such WHO has come to play a vital role as an actor in the field of international public health and international public health policy. Since its inception in 1947 WHO has been at the forefront of many breakthroughs in the field including, most notably, what has come to be described as one of the greatest humanitarian achievements of the 20th century, the elimination of Smallpox in 1979.

However WHO’s inability to control the spread of  HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa has cast doubt on its effectiveness.

Though much of the media attention given to WHO concentrates on its role in controlling and ultimately eliminating infectious disease, WHO’s mandate as you can see from the above is far broader.

The constitution of the World Health Organization entered into force on the 7th April 1948; however the idea of an international (or at least transnational) approach to dealing with matters of health had existed since the middle of the 19th century with efforts centered on combating infectious disease.

As the 20th century progressed, the focus of international health policy broadened.Afficher l'image d'origine

The constitution of WHO indicates that, by the middle of the 20th century nations were willing to cooperate in a broad range of health-related policy matters. Chapter II, Article 2 of WHO’s constitution lists the twenty-two functions of WHO.

The top six functions are:

  1. Providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
  2. Shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
  3. setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
  4. Articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
  5. Providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity;
  6. Monitoring the health situation and addressing health trends.

The constitution of the World Health Organization also addresses its structures.

These structures are complex, with three levels of organization at an international level, the World Health Assembly (WHA), comprising representatives of every WHO member state, The Executive board, which comprises members elected by the WHA and The Secretariat composed of WHO’s Director-General and technical and administrative staff.

The constitution also specifies provisions to create regional organizations and “committees considered desirable to serve any purpose within the competence of the organization.

In addition to a continuing focus on infectious disease there are also functions that specifically deal with areas including research, assistance to government and addressing non-infectious disease that had previously been given little attention on the international health policy stage.

The focus of WHO’s work has shifted over time. This is not surprising, considering the broad scope of WHO’s mandate that the organization tends to focus its work around only some of its functions at any given time.

The question is whether WHO member states and its secretariat are asking sufficiently searching questions about WHO’s place in the international system and what might need to be done to put its future on a more secure footing.

WHO is acutely aware of the challenges it faces if it is to remain a relevant actor in international health and second, the direction of WHO’s work for is geared towards meeting the health related Millennium Development Goals.

Before examining WHO’s role in maternal health it is important to understand how the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have come to play such a prominent role in shaping WHO’s work.

The MDGs came out of the United Nations Millennium Declaration which was endorsed by 189 countries in September 2000 and resolves to work towards combating poverty, ill-health, discrimination and inequality, lack of education and environmental degradation.

The MDGs are eight specific goals that the 191 United Nations (UN) states have committed themselves to achieving by 2015.

The MDGs goals are:

1.     to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;

2.     to achieve universal primary education;

3.     to promote gender equality and empower women;

4.     to reduce child mortality;

5.     to improve maternal health;

6.     to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;

7.     to ensure environmental sustainability;

8.     and to develop a global partnership for development.

These goals are interdependent, progress or lack thereof in achieving one goal will have effects on progress towards achieving the others.

Likewise it is acknowledged that in order to achieve the MDGs goals all sections of the UN system will be required to work together and, more importantly, that the UN alone cannot achieve the MDGs goals.

The MDGs are unique in that they have broad support across the international system. The constituent bodies of the UN and all 191 UN member states are committed to achieving the MDGs.

Achieving the MDGs goals will require the cooperation and action of UN member states and of other international, regional and local governmental and non-governmental organizations.

WHO in particular accepts this to be the case.

WHO’s need to work closely with other UN bodies, states and other actors in the international system is a major theme of WHO’s Eleventh General Programme of Work 2006-2015.

0NCE AGAIN both of these points indicate that WHO is aware of the fact that it cannot function as an independent actor in the international system.

Any action WHO takes must be informed by the actions of other actors in the international system and likewise WHO’s actions impact upon the actions of other actors in the international system.

Enter the World Bank. Who’s major health funder in the 1980s and a proponent of market-based health policies challenged WHO’s pre-eminent position in the field.

Along with regional organizations including the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) frame, to varying extents, their policies in a variety of areas around the achievement of the MDGs.

Many major international charities such as the Red Cross and OXFAM are focusing their work, again to varying degrees, on achieving the MDGs.

There are also many civil society organizations, operating at local, national, regional and international levels that are engaged with the MDGs.

Considering this broad support it is little wonder that WHO have chosen to focus so heavily on the achievement of the MDGs in the Eleventh General Programme of Work 2006-2015

The 2014/2015 proposed budget of the WHO is about US$4 billion. 

About US$930 million are to be provided by member states with a further US$3 billion to be from voluntary contributions.

( As of 2012, the largest annual assessed contributions from member states came from the United States ($110 million), Japan ($58 million), Germany ($37 million), United Kingdom ($31 million) and France ($31 million). The combined 2012–2013 budget has proposed a total expenditure of $3,959 million, of which $944 million (24%) will come from assessed contributions. This represented a significant fall in outlay compared to the previous 2009–2010 budget, adjusting to take account of previous under spends. Assessed contributions were kept the same. Voluntary contributions will account for $3,015 million (76%), of which $800 million is regarded as highly or moderately flexible funding, with the remainder tied to particular programmes or objectives.)

When you consider the value of the Drugs market.

As a result of the pressure to maintain sales,  there is now, in WHO’s words, “an inherent conflict of interest between the legitimate business goals of manufacturers and the social, medical and economic needs of providers and the public to select and use drugs in the most rational way”.

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The global pharmaceuticals market is worth US$300 billion a year, a figure expected to rise to US$400 billion within three years. The 10 largest drugs companies control over one-third of this market, several with sales of more than US$10 billion a year and profit margins of about 30%. Six are based in the United States and four in Europe.

A similar conflict of interests exists in the area of drug research and development (R&D) particularly in the area of neglected diseases.

The private sector dominates R&D, spending millions of dollars each year developing new drugs for the mass market. The profit imperative ensures that the drugs chosen for development are those most likely to provide a high return on the company’s investment. As a result, drugs for use in the industrialized world are prioritized over ones for use in the South, where many patients would be unable to pay for them.

In a number of cases, international corporations and foundations have contributed drugs or products free of charge to help in disease eradication.

Smith Kline Beecham has made a US$500 million commitment to WHO of its drug albendazole, used to treat lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis).

American Home Products has provided a non-toxic larvicide and the DuPont Company has contributed free cloth water filters for the eradication of guinea-worm disease (dracunculiasis).

The Japanese Nippon Foundation has enabled WHO to supply blister packs containing the drugs needed for multi-drug therapy (MDT) of TB in sufficient quantities to treat about 800 000 patients a year in some 35 countries.

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Tomorrow, the World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to officially certify that south-east Asia, formerly one of the regions with the worst levels of polio, has eradicated the disease, after India found new no cases in the previous three years. (The WHO counts India as part of south-east Asia.)

The cost of achieving this has stretched past $10 billion, much of it fronted by donors from wealthy countries that have already eliminated the disease, as the US did in 1979.

For comparison, eliminating smallpox cost $500 million in 2008 dollars.

In 1998, researchers forecast that the eradication of measles in the US by 2010 would save $45 million a year.

Despite official “eradication” in 2000, cases of the measles are growing again thanks to the anti-vaccine movement’s push against immunization.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), the health body of the United Nations (UN), has released a new report stating the huge leaps made in the global fight against malaria. In the space of only 15 years, between 2000 and 2015, the rate of new malaria infections has dropped by approximately 37 per cent, with the global death rate falling by a dramatic 60 per cent during the same period. This means over six million deaths have been prevented since 2000.

“In the last decade of the previous century, malaria was rampant, killing more than one million people every year,” “Today, global malaria control ranks as one of the most successful stories in public health, since the start of the century.” However “Malaria still causes one in ten child deaths in Africa and costs the continent’s economies around £8bn every year.”

There is no doubting that this World Organisation and the work it does is essential to us all.

Being a humanitarian organisation which is much more than just giving people medicine it must recognize that everybody is an individual with a story, with a life, with a right to a future.

It is incapable of achieving this because it has to rely on ( like the United Nations, the World Wildlife Fund, and the United Nations Children’s Fund) insecure sourcing of financing.  

A 0.05% World Aid Commission on all High Frequency Trading, on all Foreign Exchange Transactions ( over $20,000) on all Sovereign Wealth Funds Acquisitions would create a perpetual fund  that would transform all them.    

There seems little point in begging for funds when thinks go wrong.

There has never been a more pressing time for our out of date world organisation to function. Order has broken down in numerous countries. Armed groups and individuals explicitly target girls and women for rape, trafficking, and forced “marriage.” Smugglers sell desperate refugees into slavery. Predators attack the displaced, exploiting their vulnerability. And the consequences, both immediate and long-term, are profound.