Flu World Health Organization

The World Health Organization, or WHO, was officially established in 1948 by the United Nations. It was created with the goal of standardizing international health policies and practices to achieve “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” The WHO defines “health” as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The hierarchical organization of the WHO has gone through many revisions to become the substantial international network it is today.

The WHO has adopted a six-point agenda of objectives:

  • Enhancing partnerships
  • Fostering health security
  • Harnessing research, information and evidence
  • Improving performance
  • Promoting development
  • Strengthening health systems.

Importance of the WHO

 One of the most remarkable accomplishments of the WHO was the eradication of smallpox from the world’s population. Disease prevention remains at the forefront of the WHO’s mission, especially in light of the current threat of the H1N1 influenza virus, or swine flu. Also, in this modern era of global travel, diseases have the potential to spread to different countries via infected travelers. The WHO keeps track of disease dissemination and makes informed recommendations for travelers.

Roles of the World Health Organization

The primary objectives of the WHO are to convey best health practices for health professionals and the general public. The WHO publishes guidelines on sanitation, injury prevention, and infectious diseases.

For the field of medicine, the WHO is deeply involved with defining diseases and their specific criteria. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the result of longstanding scientific and medical collaboration. By standardizing the classification of diseases, proper data collection and analysis can be performed by anyone in the world. The ICD consistently undergoes modifications as new disease entities and treatments emerge.

The World Health Organization and Your Health Care

In several ways, the WHO affects you each time you visit your doctor. First of all, your medical condition is assigned one or more ICD codes. Secondly, guidelines published by the WHO offer up-to-date medical information that is justified by research and best practices. Furthermore, the actions that your doctor takes are usually grounded by ethical and evidence-based medicine that is supported and/or developed by the WHO.

The WHO not only affects your health care visits, but it may also affect your travel plans. The WHO monitors a wide range of infectious diseases and issues advisories for travelers. These advisories may recommend vaccinations and other measures in times of disease crises.

Currently, the threat of the H1N1 influenza virus, also known as the swine flu, is being closely monitored by the WHO. The information collected by health professionals about the swine flu can help WHO investigators plan a strategy to contain the extent of infection and control the severity of the symptoms.

For more information about the WHO, visit the official website at www.who.int/en.

H1N1 Pandemic 2009 - World Health Organization (WHO) Pandemic Map

 

Resources

Arnquist, S. (2009). W.H.O. examines traffic as a health hazard. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from the New York Times Web site: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/world/16traffic.html.

Lewis, N. (2009). How the World Health Organization works. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from the How Stuff Works Web site: http://health.howstuffworks.com/who.htm.

World Health Organization staff. (2009). About WHO. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from the World Health Organization Web site: www.who.int/about/en.