DURING its thirty ninth session—seventeenth meeting, January 26, 1967—the Executive Board of the World Health Organization decided to celebrate the whole of 1968 as the twentieth anniversary of the Organization. Pakistan, along with a num-ber of other countries, is issuing two postage stamps of 15 Paisa and 50 Paisa denominations on April 7, 1968 to commemorate the occasion.
Defining health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being,” the WHO Constitution states that The objective of the World Health Organization is the attain-ment by all people of the highest possible level of health. The functions of WHO are
1. To act as the directing and co-ordinating authority on international health work.
2. To propose conventions, agreements and regulations and make recommendations concerning international health matters.
3. To develop, establish and promote international standards for food, biological, pharmaceutical and similar products.
4. To promote Co-operation among scientific and pro-fessional groups which contribute to the advancement of health.
5. To promote and conduct research in health.
6. To study and report on public health and medical care from preventive and curative points of view,
including hospital services and social security.
7. To assist governments, upon request, in strengthening health services.
8. To promote maternal and child health and welfare and to foster the ability to live harmoniously in a changing environment.
9. To stimulate and advance work to eradicate epidemic, endemic and other diseases,
10. To standardize diagnostic procedures as necessary.
11. To promote the improvement of nutrition, housing, sanitation, recreation, economic or working conditions and other aspects of environmental hygiene.
12. To promote the prevention of accidental injuries.
13. To foster activities in mental health, especially those affecting human relations.
14. To promote improved standards of teaching and train-ing in health, medical and related professions.
Delegates of WHO’s 127 Member States and Associate Members (countries not responsible for their external affairs) meet annually, usually in Geneva. The Assembly establishes policy and decides on the programme and budget for the follow-ing year.
For WHO purposes the world is divided into six regions, each with its own organization—a regional committee com-posed of delegates from governments in the region and a regional office that administers WHO-aided projects and supervises staff in country projects. More than 12,000 scientists, health administrators and educators of many nations are members of 44 WHO standing expert panels whose advice is sought on matters in their field.
Since 1955, WHO has been engaged in the greatest public health venture the world has ever known: the eradication of malaria. This disease still causes more deaths than any other, as well as inestimable human distress and economic loss. Eradica-tion is proceeding in the great majority of the world’s still ma-larious countries.
Every year tens of thousands of people still get smallpox although vaccination has been known for 150 years. In 1965, there were 59,608 cases in the world and 9,735 deaths. Eradication is one of WHO’s objectives and in 1966 the Assembly decided to make an all out attack to eliminate the disease. A 10-year campaign began in 1967. 220 million vaccinations are planned for the first year. The cost to WHO $ 2,514,000.
Lack of doctors, nurses, sanitariums and trained workers of all kinds constitutes the greatest single obstacle to improving the world’s health. WHO encourages the creation of teaching institutions and provides consultants and key staff, calls expert committees and publishes reports on training of health personnel and organizes educational meetings and courses. It facilitates advanced studies abroad by awarding about 3,000 fellowships a year.
Water-borne infections include diarrhea, dysentery, ty-phoid, cholera. Less than 10 per cent of the people in the developing areas of the world are supplied with safe water in sufficient quantities. WHO helps develop new water systems, recommends water standards, trains engineers, chemists, ba-cteriologists. WHO also fights air, soil and water pollution.
WHO is studying and co-ordinating research on the medi-cal aspects of sterility and fecundity and on population dyna-mics as they affect health. WHO’s role in this field, as defined by the World Health Assembly in 1966, is “to give Member States, upon request, technical advice in the development of activities in family planning, as part of an organized health service, without impairing its normal preventive and curative functions”.
WHO is helping countries to solve many health problems. The main objective is to build up the national potential and train personnel so that eventually outside help will no longer be needed. Regional offices are responsible for planning and operating country projects, while technical staff at Headquarters is ready to advise and help. The process starts with a request from a government for WHO, to investigate a problem that cannot be solved with local resources. Discussions follow between the national health authorities and the WHO regional office and a plan of operations is drawn up.