The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established in 1948, headquartered in Geneva, Its predecessor, the Health Organization, was an agency of theLeague of Nations. Since its creation the first priorities were to control the spread of malaria, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections, and to improve child health, nutrition and environmental hygiene
WHO’s purpose is to build support across the world’s most health-troubled countries: it is concerned to ensure that health is prioritized within overall economic and development plans, and to increase the amount of aid provided by rich countries towards the poor ones.
Worldwide more than one hundred millions people are in need of humanitarian assistance, because disease outbreaks are a constant global threat.
For istance, WHO intervened in response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
WHO, in collaboration with PAHO* (Pan American Health Organization), quickly established two new field offices, deployed teams, from all over the world, of experts to provide health services to affected areas, sending essential supplies.
WHO/PAHO also sent cholera supplies in at risk-areas, and evaluated health structures and services in Haiti, in order to prioritize needs.
WHO supported also the cure and the vaccination of millions of people in response to the yellow fever outbreak in Angola and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
And when the Zika virus spread, WHO worked with 23 agencies to intervene in the most efficient way.
No organization can act alone, and WHO collaborates with:
GLOBAL HEALTH CLUSTER
EMERGENCY MEDICAL TEAMS
Core functions of WHO are:
1. Providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint
action is needed;
2. Shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of
3. Setting norms and standards, and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
4. Articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
5. Providing technical support, catalyzing change, and building sustainable institutional
6. Monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. Since the 1950s, it has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. From 2007 to 2016, the virus spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas, leading to the 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic.
In January 2016, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel guidance on affected countries, including the use of enhanced precautions, and guidelines for pregnant women including considering postponing travel. Other governments or health agencies also issued similar travel warnings.
The World Health Organization declared an end to its global health emergency over the spread of the Zika virus on Friday, prompting dismay from some public health experts confronting the epidemic.
An agency advisory committee said it ended the emergency — formally known as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — committee members repeatedly emphasized that they did not consider the Zika crisis over.
But other experts worried that the W.H.O.’s declaration might slow the international response to an epidemic that is still spreading, and lull people at risk into thinking they were safe.
Since the W.H.O. first declared a state of emergency on Feb. 1, the Zika virus has spread to almost every country in the Western Hemisphere except Canada. Thousands of babies suffer deformities caused by the infection, and more are expected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed no opinion about the WHO.’s decision, but noted that it “did not change the urgent need to continue our work.”
The agency also reiterated the warning it issued in January that pregnant women should avoid traveling to areas where the virus was being transmitted.
Cecilia Di Filippo