The World Health Organization, the United Nations’ specialised agency for health was established on 7 April 1948. The WHO’s objective, as set out in its Constitution, is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health is defined in the WHO’s Constitution as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely theabsence of disease or infirmity.
The WHO is governed by 192 Member States through the World Health Assembly. The Health Assembly is composed of representatives from the WHO’s Member States. The main tasks of the World Health Assembly are to approve the WHO programme and the budget for the following biennium and to decide major policy questions.
The Secretariat is headed by the Director-General, who is nominated by the Executive Board and elected by Member States for a period of five years. Dr Margaret Chan was elected as Director General of WHO in November 2006.
The WHO’s Secretariat is staffed by health professionals, other experts and support staff working at headquarters in Geneva, in the six regional offices and in countries. The WHO’s regional offices are:
- Regional Office for Africa – located in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
- Regional Office for Europe – located in Copenhagen, Denmark
- Regional Office for South-East Asia – located in New Delhi, India
- Regional Office for the Americas/Pan-American Health Organization located in Washington D.C., USA
- Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean – located in Cairo, Egypt
- Regional Office for the Western Pacific – located in Manila, Philippines
In carrying out its activities, the 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 the 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
Prevention of Blindness team (www.who.int/blindness)
The objective of WHO’s prevention of blindness team is to assist Member States to effectively prevent blindness and restore sight, when possible. The global target is to ultimately reduce blindness prevalence to less than 0.5 % in all countries, or less than 1 % in any country.
The WHO Prevention of Blindness (PBL) team works with Member States through WHO regional offices to develop strategies for prevention and control of blindness and visual impairment. Team members, together with our many partners in the field, including NGOs and WHO collaborating centres, work with country-based teams to support the implementation of strategies developed. In addition, to facilitate ongoing strategic planning, the PBL team co-ordinates the collection and dissemination at national, regional, and global levels of data that reflect the burden of visual impairment and the implementation of programme strategies. The principal area of work of the Prevention of Blindness team (PBL) is elimination of avoidable blindness.
Dr. Ivo Kocur,
Global Coordinator, VISION 2020 initiative
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Telex: 415 416
Telegraph: UNISANTE GENEVA
Phone: (+ 41 22) 791 21 11
Fax: (+ 41 22) 791 3111