World Health Organisation

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialist agency of the United Nations. It aims to increase international co-operation in the field of public health, working towards ‘the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health’. The WHO is particularly focused on fighting diseases, controlling epidemics and improving all-round health care.

Historically, the WHO has worked on malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. In recent years the WHO has been concerned with antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’, bird-flu outbreaks and fighting the ebola virus in West Africa in 2013–15. Successes have included the eradication of smallpox in the 1970s, and the removal of the scourge of polio from all but two countries. Child and maternal mortality have also been significantly reduced. However, the WHO has been criticised for its inadequate response to the ebola epidemic.