Directory of Economic, Commodity and Development Organizations - table of contents


Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS)


20 Avenue Appia                                            Telephone:  [41](22)791-2111
CH-1211 Geneva 27                                          Facsimile:  [41](22)791-0746/3111
Switzerland                                                E-Mail:

          Director General:            ...   Dr. Gro Harlem BRUNDTLAND

Regional Offices

WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO)
[Temporary Address]
Parirenyatwa Hospital                                      Telephone:  [263](4)70-3580
P.O. Box BE 773                                            Facsimile:  [263](4)79-0146/1214
Zimbabwe                                                   E-Mail:
WHO Regional Office for Europe (EURO)
8 Scherfigsvej                                             Telephone:  [45]3917-1717
DK-2100 Copenhagen                                         Facsimile:  [45]3917-1818
Denmark                                                    Telex:      15348
WHO Regional Office for the
Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO)
WHO Post Office                                            Telephone:  [20](2)670-2535
Abdul Razzak Al Sanhouri Street                            Facsimile:  [20](2)670-2492/2494
Nasr City, Cairo 11371                                     E-Mail:
WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO)
World Health House                                         Telephone:  [91](11)331-7804
Indraprastha Estate                                        Facsimile:  [91](11)332-7972
Mahatma Ghandi Road                                        Telex:      3165095
New Delhi 110 002                                          E-Mail:
WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO)
P.O. Box 2932                                              Telephone:  [63](2)528-8001
1099 Manila                                                Facsimile:  [63](2)521-1036
Philippines                                                Telex:      27652
WHO Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO)
525 - 23rd Street, NW                                      Telephone:  [1](202)974-3000
Washington, DC 20037                                       Facsimile:  [1](202)974-3663
USA                                                        Telex:      248338


The Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) was adopted on July 22, 1946 by the International Health Conference, which was convened by the Economic and Social Council and held in New York. WHO came into being on April 7, 1948, when the 26th United Nations member ratified its Constitution.

The objective of WHO is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health, as defined in the WHO Constitution, is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. In support of its main objective, the Organization has a wide range of functions, including the following: (1) To act as the directing and co-ordinating authority on international health work; (2) To promote technical collaboration; (3) To assist Governments, upon request, in strengthening health services; (4) To furnish appropriate technical assistance and, in emergencies, necessary aid, upon the request or acceptance of Governments; (5) To stimulate and advance work on the prevention and control of epidemic, endemic and other diseases; (6) To promote, in co-operation with other specialized agencies where necessary, the improvement of nutrition, housing, sanitation, recreation, economic or working conditions and other aspects of environmental hygiene; (7) To promote and co-ordinate biomedical and health services research; (8) To promote improved standards of teaching and training in the health, medical and related professions; (9) To establish and stimulate the establishment of international standards for food, biological, pharmaceutical and similar products, and to standardize diagnostic procedures; and (10) To foster activities in the field of mental health, especially those activities affecting the harmony of human relations.

WHO also proposes conventions, agreements, regulations and makes recommendations about international nomenclature of diseases, causes of death and public health practices.

On taking up her position as Director-General in July 1998, Dr. Brundtland refocused the work of WHO and developed a new corporate strategy, setting out four strategic directions for WHO's contribution to efforts to advance health at global and country levels:

    The first direction is to address the burden of ill-health among very poor populations, taking account of the big contrasts in healthy life expectancy - between and within countries - giving particular emphasis to childhood illness; reproductive ill-health, including maternal mortality and morbidity; nutrition, communicable diseases; mental ill-health; injury and non-communicable diseases.
    The second is to track and assess risks to health, and to help societies take action to reduce them. The emphasis is on enabling people to understand, then to limit, the risk factors for health. Risks may be associated with individual behaviour, dietary practices, use of tobacco and its products, exposure to violence or influences within the environment.
    The third is to improve the performance of health systems. This means being able to assess how well a health system is performing in relation to expectations, and to establish the reasons for differing performance of health systems. The methods need to be robust enough to enable the examination of health systems within a country, of the comparison of different national experioences. It also means a focus on options and means to improve the health system, concentrating on service delivery, resource management, financing mechanisms and stewardship.
    The fourth is to encourage national policies which promote health, with contributions from the economic, political and societal domains. The challenge is to find optimal means for investing in healthy futures through intergovernmental, national and local action.

The Assembly adopted a zero-growth regular budget for 2002-2003. The total regular budget remains the same as in previous biennium at US$842.6 million. WHO expects extra-budgetary resources in the biennium 2002-2003 to grow by 25% compared to the current biennium.


191 members: Islamic State of Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, The Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Federated States of Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro (suspended), Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Republic of Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

2 associate members: Puerto Rico, Tokelau


The main bodies of the WHO are: The World Health Assembly, the Executive Board and the Secretariat.

The Assembly usually meets in Geneva, but five meetings have been held in other countries. The Assembly's main tasks are to approve the WHO program and the budget for the following biennium and to decide major policy questions.

The Executive Board is composed of 32 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a Member State elected to do so by the World Health Assembly. Member States are elected for three-year terms. The Board meets at least twice a year; the main meeting is normally in January, with a second shorter meeting in May, immediately after the Health Assembly. The main functions of the Executive Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work.

Current members of the Executive Board are Brazil, China, Columbia, Cuba, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Democratic People's Rebublic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Lithuania, Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.

The WHO has six regional organizations and offices lcoated in Alexandria, Brazzaville, Copenhagen, Manila, New Delhi and Washington, DC. Each office is headed by a regional director and there is a regional board.

The Secretariat is staffed by some over 3,500 health and other experts and support staff working at headquarters in Geneva, in the six regional offices and other countries.

The Secretariat is headed by the Director-General, who is nominated by the Executive Board and appointed by the World Health Assembly for a period of five years. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland took office as Director-General on July 21, 1998.

UPDATED: March 25, 2003

Directory of Economic, Commodity and Development Organizations - table of contents