Recently, we have heard a lot about the
World Health Organization in the news in connection with SARS.
In an effort to control the spread of SARS, the WHO has
provided daily updates on its Web site, travel advisories
regarding international travel, coordination of scientific and
medical experts, and sharing of information between countries.
On June 17 and 18, 2003, the WHO will hold a Global Conference
on SARS in Malaysia, where experts and public health
practitioners will meet to discuss how the world can work on
The WHO was around a long time before the
SARS outbreak. This organization actually began in April, 1948
as a United Nations agency. Governed by 192 member states, the
WHO was created to “ensure the highest level of health for all
people.” Meetings are held once a year in Geneva to make
important decisions regarding worldwide diseases.
In an effort to reduce diseases around the
world, the WHO has an important role. With the help of other
agencies such as UNICEF , poor countries receive help to
control serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis,
polio, cholera, yellow fever, and malaria. Vaccination
programs are also important in helping to reduce many
communicable diseases in these countries.
When emergency help is needed because of war
or natural disasters, the WHO becomes involved. For example,
the WHO is now providing emergency medical help for the people
of Iraq and victims of floods in Sri Lanka.
In May, 2003, the WHO also became involved
in trying to control disease and death related to smoking.
Approximately 5 million people throughout the world die every
year from smoking related diseases. As a result, an
international treaty has been organized to control tobacco
advertising, protect people from second hand smoke, and
increase taxes on tobacco.
For more information on the World Health
Organization, including SARS and a map showing different
health risks in countries around the world, click on this link
to their Web site:
World Health Organization
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