World Health Organization


Flag of the World Health OrganizationThe World Health Organization is the United Nations specialized agency for health. It was established on 7 April 1948. WHO's objective, as set out in its Constitution, is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health is defined in WHO's Constitution as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.


Under the League of Nations system a Health Organization was established in 1923. This can be seen as a predecessor of the WHO.


WHO is governed by 193 Member States through the World Health Assembly. The Health Assembly is composed of representatives from WHO's Member States. The main tasks of the World Health Assembly are to approve the WHO programme and the budget for the World Health Assembly, Genevafollowing biennium and to decide major policy questions. The Health Assembly is held in the Palais des Nations in Geneva (photo: WHO/P. Virot).


Members are all members states of the United Nations, except Liechtenstein, as well as Cook Islands and Niue. Territories that are not responsible for their own foreign relations may become an associate member.


Member states are grouped into six regions, each with a regional office: Africa, the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, South East Asia and Western Pacific. The regional office for the Americas is better known as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).


Special Goodwill Ambassadors have been appointed to promote the work of the WHO: Liya Kebede (Ethiopia), Yohei Sasakawa (Japan), Sylvie Vartan (France) and The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Austria).


From 1948 to 1995 special stamps were issued by Switzerland for use on mail from the WHO Headquarters in Geneva. These stamps can be found in the stamp catalogue.





The website of the World Health Organization.

Flag of the WHO in Flags of the World.

Article on the WHO in Wikipedia.



Related subjects


WHO 20th anniversary

WHO 25th anniversary

WHO 40th anniversary

WHO 50th anniversary


World AIDS Day

World Blood Donor Day

World Health Day

World No Tobacco Day


12th RICAZ

Global Eradication of Smallpox

Inauguration of WHO Headquarters, Geneva

International Conference on Nutrition, Rome


The World United Against Malaria

WHO Collaborating Centres



Related persons


Hemerijckx, Frans

Heymans, Corneille



Stamp catalogue - general issues


Belgium                      17 April 1958



Stamp catalogue - 50th anniversary


Suriname                     4 December 1998









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last revised: 5 July 2009