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World Health Organization (WHO)

  • By: Mark W. Rosenberg
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The World Health Organization (WHO) was one of the earliest bodies created by the United Nations. The WHO effectively began in 1948, when its constitution came into force, and to this day it continues to spearhead global public health initiatives. Over the years, the WHO has played a key role in the organization and promotion of global programs to eradicate infectious diseases, including small pox, polio, and measles; in helping developing countries, in particular, to build their public health care systems; and in the development of surveillance systems for and responses to highly infectious emergent diseases (e.g., Ebola).

Arguably, the WHO's greatest contribution to date is the role it has played in transforming the thinking on the development of primary health care. In 1978, the WHO ...

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