Health & Wellbeing

70 years of the World Health Organisation

Health is one of those things you just can’t take for granted. While in Australia we have access to affordable medical care, for many around the world who might not have the health care they need, the World Health Organisation has been there to help.

Why was it created?

The World Health Organisation, otherwise known as WHO was created by the United Nations on 7 April 1948, with the goal of providing better health care to people around the world. Its vision is “Health for all”, which might seem simple but research shows is still a long way off.

According to A brief history of World Health Day, as of April 2014, over half of the world's population are still at risk of preventable diseases like malaria and yellow fever. Poverty is a large factor, with the world's poorest areas making up the majority of this group.

How has the World Health Organisation evolved over the years?

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The WHO is a specialised agency within the United Nations that began in 1948. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it now has 194 members and 6 regional offices in: Africa, Europe, South-East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, Western Pacific, and the Americas.

Over the years, WHO has worked with local governments and organisations with the aim of helping those most at risk of health related issues, who might not have access to or can afford adequate medical care. This year on Saturday, 7 April marks its 70th year in operation, which also aligns with World Health Day.

How has it helped improve health care?

WHO has achieved some great milestones when it comes to improving the health of people around the world. According to a WHO report in 2015, here are some of the ways it has helped:

  1. An increase in the number of children immunised against measles. From 1990 to 2008, there was an increase in infant measles immunisation from 73% to 83%.
  2. A focus on early intervention in malnutrition. The report also highlights that the number of underweight children has declined. In 1990, 25% of children were underweight where by 2010 that number had reduced to 16%.
  3. Clean drinking water has also improved. 87% of people by 2008 had access to safe drinking water.

Of course, these numbers still don’t mean that all people around the world have adequate health care. That’s why WHO is encouraging people to get involved in their mission this World Health Day. This year it is all about encouraging world leaders to “commit to concrete steps to advance the health of all people.”

To find out how you can get involved in World Health Day, visit the WHO website here.

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