WHO – World Health Organization
WHO’s activities cover a wide range of areas and measures that are divided into various so-called programs. The WHO works on two levels: partly to draw up guidelines for international health and medical care work, and partly to concretely support health work in the member countries.
WHO’s development assistance activities in developing countries are aimed at building up the countries’ own capacity and at the same time giving advice on how health care is to be organized and on how various diseases can be effectively prevented and treated. The dissemination of healthcare articles, medicines, etc. is the responsibility of other UN agencies and aid organizations. Even in disaster situations, the WHO primarily seeks to strengthen the countries’ own capacity to limit the negative health effects.
The WHO also researches various diseases, compiles health statistics and informs about the occurrence and spread of diseases. WHO warns, for example, when new types of flu are on the way. Every year, the WHO publishes The World Health Report, which addresses various aspects of health. According to Abbreviationfinder, WHO stands for World Health Organization.
Overall health care work
Fundamental to the WHO’s work is the strategy “Health 21 – Health for all in the 21st century”. This does not mean that the organization believes that all people should be completely healthy, but the aim is that everyone should at least have access to health care. From the beginning, the project mainly involved an investment in primary care, but has since been expanded to also emphasize the importance of quality of life and even distribution of resources for health care.
Certain minimum requirements have been established within the framework of the health strategy. They mean that all people should have access to clean water and sewage, vaccines against six diseases, primary medical care at a maximum distance of one hour from home and basic maternity and infant care.
Over the years, the WHO has organized a number of comprehensive programs to improve health care in the member countries in various ways. A large part of the programs are focused on disease control, but the WHO also runs other types of programs which, for example, are intended to promote a healthy lifestyle or which examine the connection between the environment and human health from different points of view.
A priority task for the WHO has long been the fight against infectious diseases. An International Health Regulation (IHR) was established as early as 1951 and was last updated in 2005. This document constitutes a binding agreement on the reporting obligation in the event of a threat to public health. In addition to epidemic diseases, the agreement also includes threats in the form of, for example, chemical or radioactive discharges. In some cases, the WHO is trying to eradicate diseases completely. One of the organization’s greatest successes was noted in 1979 when the disease smallpox could be declared completely wiped out.
In the 1970’s, the WHO launched a comprehensive program to vaccinate children against polio, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles and tuberculosis (tuberculosis). Later, hepatitis B (jaundice) vaccine and, in areas where it occurs, yellow fever were added. In the last decade alone, more than a billion children have been vaccinated, and millions of lives are estimated to have been saved. The campaigns against polio and measles have been the most successful. Today, 85 percent of the world’s children are vaccinated against polio and 71 percent against measles. The campaign against polio is the most comprehensive of its kind so far in the world. In 2020, the disease remained in only two countries in the world: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Extensive efforts are being made to combat HIV / AIDS, TB and malaria – diseases that claim the lives of millions of people, especially in poor countries, despite the fact that there are methods to limit the spread and treat those infected.
The fight against malaria was declared a special priority in 1998. The WHO launched a program to strengthen primary care and focus on preventive measures against malaria. The fight against malaria has been successful. In the early 2000’s, the disease killed more than one million people a year. In 2018, the death toll was just over 400,000. Africa is worst affected.
TB was declared a global public health threat in 1993 and two years later a special program was launched to combat the TB epidemic. The proportion of infections increased steadily during the 1990’s, but since 2000 the number of infections and deaths has decreased. Today, around ten million people are infected with tuberculosis every year. In 2000, 2.6 million people lost their lives to tuberculosis. Eight years later, the number of deaths had decreased to just over 1.4 million. The disease mainly affects Southeast Asia and Africa. Over a quarter of all those who fall ill live in India.