World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations' specialized agency for health and is headquartered in Geneva. Founded 7April 1948, it comprises 194 Member States.

According to the Organization's Constitution, its goal is to attain the highest possible level of health for all people. Its main mission is combating diseases and promoting the overall health of all people worldwide.

A central task of WHO is to develop and harmonise guidelines, standards and methods in health-related areas and to implement them globally. Important fields of action in this context are

  • the worldwide coordination of national and international activities in the fight against communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis and influenza,
  • the launch of global vaccination programmes and programmes to control health risk factors such as smoking or obesity,
  •  the regular collection and analysis of global data on health and disease,
  • supporting developing countries in setting up health care systems that are as effective and affordable as possible.

Headquartered in Geneva, WHO is grouped into six regions that are each managed by a Regional Office. In addition, it has more than 150 country offices and employs more than 7,000 staff. Its biennial budget currently totals nearly five billion USD. WHO is governed by the World Health Assembly (WHA), the highest decision-making body of WHO that is composed of all of the 194 Member States. In between the annual WHA meetings, the Executive Board made up of 34 government representatives is responsible for WHO’s governance. Germany is currently a Board member and a member of the WHO EURO region, whose regional office is based in Copenhagen (Denmark). 

Germany’s commitment within WHO

Germany has been a member of the World Health Organization since 1948. Its WHO membership provides a central frame of reference for Germany’s contribution to global health. Germany aims to support and strengthen WHO in accomplishing its tasks. Therefore, the Federal Government supports reforms within WHO that serve to enhance its structures and core competencies. Germany provides constructive input to WHO administrative bodies and, in 2018, was elected to WHO’s Executive Board through which it can play an active part in shaping the process of strengthening and focusing WHO until 2021.

Germany is one of the top donors among WHO’s Member States, both as regards assessed contributions and voluntary contributions.

Youth Delegate Programme

Since 2021, the German Delegation to the World Health Assembly is complemented by a youth representative from the Youth Delegate Programme of the German Federal Ministry of Health. The programme aims to strengthen the participation of German personnel and young talent in international organisations and global health bodies and to make global health issues and current political discussions more accessible to young people.

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Important WHO bodies and institutions

Last change: 14. March 2022
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