The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) is an agency of the United Nations tasked with promoting the general health and welfare of the people of the world. It was founded in 1948 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO’s focus "is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health," primarily the combating of infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, smallpox, SARS and more.

Smallpox is a potentially deadly disease that has plagued the human race for thousands of years. As late as the 20th century, it was estimated to have caused the deaths of around 300-500 million people worldwide. The World Health Organization led the fight against smallpox for nearly two decades and as of 1979, it announced that the disease was successfully and completely eradicated. This is the only infection disease in history to be eliminated by human effort. The WHO also hopes to completely eradicate polio in the next few years, is close to developing vaccines for malaria and SARS, and has already endorsed an HIV/AIDS toolkit for use in Africa, making it a world standard.

Besides the research and prevention of disease, the WHO also leads programs that promote general health and wellbeing across the world. For example, they encourage the consumption of more fruits and vegetables in a balanced diet, discourage the use of tobacco products, and conduct studies on the effects of cell phone usage on our health. Their programs also include the International Radon Project, Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care, Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage and the celebration of World Health Day on April 7 of each year, to name a few. The WHO also aids member states in creating research studies and programs that focus on meeting the specific healthcare needs of their citizens.

The WHO is financed primarily by contributions from its member states and generous donors. It has also formed roughly 80 partnerships with various health organizations, NGOs and the pharmaceutical industry, including: International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, Infectious Disease Research Institute, Rockefeller Institute, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and more.

The WHO has worked tirelessly for sixty years to research, prevent and treat the spread of disease, and educate the world population on the benefits of good health practices. Hopefully soon, with more hard work, it will reach its goals of seeing the end of other infectious diseases like AIDS, malaria and SARS.

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