World Health Organization

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Posted by pompos 04/21/2009 @ 18:11

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These efforts, some of which are already underway, can greatly reduce the serious health threats posed by global warming and set an example for other sectors. That is the message of a discussion paper just issued by the World Health Organization (WHO)...
WHO's A/H1N1 decisions based on scientific facts, says chief - Xinhua
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World Health Organization

Flag of WHO.svg

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health Organization, which had been an agency of the League of Nations.

The WHO's constitution states that its objective "is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health." Its major task is to combat disease, especially key infectious diseases, and to promote the general health of the people of the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the original agencies of the United Nations, its constitution formally coming into force on the first World Health Day, (7 April 1948), when it was ratified by the 26th member state. Prior to this its operations, as well as the remaining activities of the League of Nations Health Organization, were under the control of an Interim Commission following an International Health Conference in the summer of 1946. The transfer was authorized by a Resolution of the General Assembly. The epidemiological service of the French Office International d'Hygiène Publique was incorporated into the Interim Commission of the World Health Organization on 1 January 1947.

As well as coordinating international efforts to monitor outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as SARS, malaria, and AIDS, the WHO also sponsors programs to prevent and treat such diseases. The WHO supports the development and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, pharmaceutical diagnostics, and drugs. After over 2 decades of fighting smallpox, the WHO declared in 1980 that the disease had been eradicated - the first disease in history to be eliminated by human effort.

The WHO aims to eradicate polio within the next few years. The organization has already endorsed the world's first official HIV/AIDS Toolkit for Zimbabwe (from 3 October 2006), making it an international standard.

In addition to its work in eradicating disease, the WHO also carries out various health-related campaigns — for example, to boost the consumption of fruits and vegetables worldwide and to discourage tobacco use.

Experts met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva in February, 2007, and reported that their work on pandemic influenza vaccine development had achieved encouraging progress. More than 40 clinical trials have been completed or are ongoing. Most have focused on healthy adults. Some companies, after completing safety analyses in adults, have initiated clinical trials in the elderly and in children. All vaccines so far appear to be safe and well-tolerated in all age groups tested.

The WHO also conducts research, on, for instance, whether the electromagnetic field surrounding cell phones has a negative influence on health. Some of this work can be controversial, as illustrated by the April, 2003, joint WHO/FAO report, which recommended that sugar should form no more than 10% of a healthy diet. This report led to lobbying by the sugar industry against the recommendation, to which the WHO/FAO responded by including in the report the statement "The Consultation recognized that a population goal for free sugars of less than 10% of total energy is controversial", but also stood by its recommendation based upon its own analysis of scientific studies.

The production and dissemination of health statistics for health action at country, regional and global levels is a core WHO activity mandated to WHO by its Member States in its Constitution. WHO produced figures carry great weight in national and international resource allocation, policy making and programming, based on its reputation as "unbiased" (impartial and fair), global (not belonging to any camp), and technically competent (consulting leading research and policy institutions and individuals).

The WHO has 193 Member States, including all UN Member States except Liechtenstein , and 2 non-UN members, Niue and the Cook Islands. Territories that are not UN Member States may join as Associate Members (with full information but limited participation and voting rights) if approved by an Assembly vote: Puerto Rico and Tokelau are Associate Members. Entities may also be granted observer status: examples include the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Holy See (Vatican City).

The WHO Assembly generally meets in May each year. In addition to appointing the Director-General every five years, the Assembly considers the financial policies of the Organization and reviews and approves the proposed programme budget. The Assembly elects 34 members, technically qualified in the field of health, to the Executive Board for three-year terms. The main functions of the Board are to carry out the decisions and policies of the Assembly, to advise it and to facilitate its work in general.

Uncharacteristically for a UN Agency, the six Regional Offices of the WHO enjoy remarkable autonomy. Each Regional Office is headed by a Regional Director (RD), who is elected by the Regional Committee for a once-renewable five-year term. The name of the RD-elect is transmitted to the WHO Executive Board in Geneva, which proceeds to confirm the appointment. It is rare that an elected Regional Director is not confirmed.

Each Regional Committee of the WHO consists of all the Health Department heads, in all the governments of the countries that constitute the Region. Aside from electing the Regional Director, the Regional Committee is also in charge of setting the guidelines for the implementation, within the region, of the Health and other policies adopted by the World Health Assembly. The Regional Committee also serves as a progress review board for the actions of the WHO within the Region.

The Regional Director is effectively the head of the WHO for his or her Region. The RD manages and/or supervises a staff of health and other experts at the regional headquarters and in specialized centers. The RD is also the direct supervising authority — concomitantly with the WHO Director General — of all the heads of WHO country offices, known as WHO Representatives, within the Region.

The World Health Organization operates 147 country and liaison offices in all its regions. The presence of a country office is generally motivated by a need, stated by the member country. There will generally be one WHO country office in the capital, occasionally accompanied by satellite-offices in the provinces or sub-regions of the country in question.

The country office is headed by a WHO Representative (WR), who is a trained physician, not a national of that country, who holds diplomatic rank and is due privileges and immunities similar to those of an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. In most countries, the WR (like Representatives of other UN agencies) is de facto and/or de jure treated like an Ambassador - the distinction here being that instead of being an Ambassador of one sovereign country to another, the WR is a senior UN civil servant, who serves as the "Ambassador" of the WHO to the country to which he or she is accredited. Hence, the title of Resident Representative, or simply Representative.

The country office consists of the WR, and several health and other experts, both foreign and local, as well as the necessary support staff. The main functions of WHO country offices include being the primary adviser of that country's government in matters of health and pharmaceutical policies.

International liaison offices serve largely the same purpose as country offices, but generally on a smaller scale. These are often found in countries that want WHO presence and cooperation, but do not have the major health system flaws that require the presence of a full-blown country office. Liaison offices are headed by a liaison officer, who is a national from that particular country, without diplomatic immunity.

The World Health Organization is an agency of the United Nations and as such shares a core of common personnel policy with other agencies.

The World Health Organization has recently banned the recruitment of cigarette smokers, to promote the principle of a tobacco-free work environment.The World Health Organization(WHO) successfully rallied 168 countries to sign the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003. The Convention is designed to push for effective legislation and its enforcement in all countries to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco. On August 28th, 2005, the National People’s Congress of China signed the Convention.

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1985 World Health Organization AIDS surveillance case definition

The 1985 World Health Organization AIDS surveillance case definition was developed in October 1985, at a conference of public health officials including representatives of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) in Bangui, Central African Republic. For this reason, it became to be known as the Bangui definition for AIDS. It was developed to provide surveiling case definition of AIDS for use in countries where testing for HIV antibodies was not available.

The diagnosis of AIDS is established when the score is 12 or more.

The 1985 WHO AIDS surveillance case definition was heavily criticised, for both medical and political reasons. The 1994 expanded World Health Organization AIDS case definition was introduced in 1994 to incorporate the statement that HIV testing should be done. However, if testing was unavailable, then the Bangui definition should be used.

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World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (abbreviated WHO FCTC) is a treaty adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly on May 21, 2003. It became the first World Health Organization treaty adopted under article 19 of the WHO constitution. The treaty came into force on February 27, 2005. It had been signed by 168 countries and is legally binding in 164 ratifying/accessioned countries representing over 3 billion people. There are currently 31 non-parties to the treaty (14 which has not signed and 17 which have signed but not ratified).

The objective of the treaty is "to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke." To this end, the treaty provides a framework of national, regional and international tobacco control measures, including the setting of broad limits on the production, sale, distribution, advertisement, taxation, and government policies towards tobacco.

The United States has sought to change certain provisions of this treaty, but with limited success. Among the provisions opposed successfully were a mandatory ban on the distribution of free tobacco samples (which is now optional), a narrow definition of the term "minor" regarding the sale of tobacco (which now refers to domestic or national law) and broad limitations concerning the tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (which were seen as violating free speech, and are now subject to constitutional limitations). Among the provisions unsuccessfully opposed by the U.S. were the requirement for warning labels to be written in the language of the country where the tobacco products are being sold, and the ban on deceptive and misleading descriptions such as "low tar" or "ultra-light", which might infringe on trademark protections.

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1994 expanded World Health Organization AIDS case definition

The 1994 expanded World Health Organization AIDS case definition came around through the developments in the understanding of the spectrum of severe HIV-related illness both in developed and developing countries, and the increased availability of laboratory diagnostic methods, a meeting was convened in Geneva, Switzerland by the World Health Organization Global Programme on AIDS to review the 1985 World Health Organization AIDS surveillance case definition (Bangui definition) and to modify and expand them for use in adults and adolescents. Both the 1985 World Health Organization AIDS surveillance case definition and the 1994 expanded World Health Organization AIDS case definition are case definitions for AIDS surveillance and not for clinically staging HIV infection.

The main change from the Bangui definition is the addition of an HIV test for HIV antibody. If this test gives a positive result and one or more of the following conditions, the individual is considered to have AIDS.

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Source : Wikipedia