World Health Organization

World Health Organization’s (WHO) Foundations and Functions

Education, International Relations, Political Science, WHO, World Health Organization

World Health Organization (WHO)


Established in 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) emerged as the pioneer in global health organizations, a key player in the United Nations system. Nestled in the picturesque city of Geneva, Switzerland, WHO operates under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC). April 7th marks World Health Day, a global celebration commemorating the organization’s inception and dedication to international well-being.

Global Membership Dynamics:

At the beginning of 2021, WHO’s extensive membership encompassed 194 states, incorporating all United Nations member states except for Liechtenstein. This inclusive count further accommodates the Cook Islands and Niue. Central to its structure is the World Health Assembly, a preeminent decision-making body where delegations from all member states converge annually to deliberate on crucial health-related matters.

Decision-Making Processes and Annual Assembly:

The World Health Assembly serves as the epicenter of WHO’s decision-making processes. Held in Geneva, Switzerland, each May, this assembly determines policies, appoints the Director-General, scrutinizes financial policies, and approves the proposed program budget. The gathering also involves a comprehensive review of executive board reports, ensuring thorough examination of areas requiring attention.

Executive Board Dynamics:

Comprising 34 members with three-year terms, the Executive Board diligently translates the decisions and policies crafted by the World Health Assembly into actionable plans. This crucial body not only implements decisions but also plays an advisory role, facilitating the assembly’s work. To streamline communication and coordination, the Executive Board convenes twice annually, in January and May.

Director-General Appointment and Expertise:

Every five years, the World Health Assembly is tasked with appointing the Director-General, a pivotal figure in WHO’s leadership. In addition to this, the assembly elects 34 technically qualified members to the executive board, ensuring diverse expertise and perspectives in health-related matters. Currently, the Director General of WHO is Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, officially began his second term on 16 August 2022.

Regional Representation and Leadership Rotation:

WHO is globally divided into six regions, each contributing to the overall governance. The Chair of the Executive Board is elected through a rotation system, nominated by the Regional Committees of the six WHO Regions, including the African Region, Region of the Americas, South-East Asia Region, European Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, and Western Pacific Region.

India’s Prominent Role:

A noteworthy example of regional representation is India’s nomination to the WHO Executive Board in September 2019. Following the 72nd Regional Committee Session of WHO South-East Asia, India took over from Sri Lanka, representing the Region on the Executive Board until 2023. This reflects the dynamic nature of regional participation within WHO.


The World Health Organization stands as a cornerstone in the global health landscape, fostering collaboration and devising strategies to address the world’s health challenges. From the foundational principles to the intricacies of decision-making processes and regional dynamics, WHO remains an indispensable force in promoting and safeguarding global health.

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