What Is the History of the World Health Organization?

The World Health Organization (WHO) is an international organization dedicated to promoting health and well-being worldwide. It was established on April 7, 1948, with the aim of providing leadership on global health issues, setting standards for health care, and coordinating efforts to address public health challenges.

The Founding of WHO

The idea of creating a global health organization was first proposed in 1945 at the United Nations Conference on International Organization. The conference recognized the need for a specialized agency to address international health issues and drafted a constitution for the World Health Organization.

On April 7, 1948, the First World Health Assembly was held, and WHO officially came into existence. The assembly elected Dr. Brock Chisholm as its first Director-General.

Early Years of WHO

In its early years, WHO focused primarily on eradicating infectious diseases such as smallpox and tuberculosis. The organization also worked to improve maternal and child health, nutrition, and sanitation.

In 1955, WHO launched its Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), which aimed to provide vaccines for preventable diseases such as measles and polio. By the end of the decade, smallpox had been eradicated in many countries thanks to WHO’s efforts.

Expansion of WHO’s Focus

Over the years, WHO’s focus expanded beyond infectious diseases to include non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The organization also began addressing mental health issues and environmental health concerns.

In response to global epidemics such as HIV/AIDS and Ebola virus disease, WHO established emergency response teams to provide rapid assistance during outbreaks.

Recent Developments

In recent years, WHO has been at the forefront of efforts to combat COVID-19. The organization has provided guidance on measures such as testing, contact tracing, and vaccination strategies. WHO has also worked to ensure that vaccines are distributed fairly and equitably around the world.

In May 2021, WHO announced a new Global Strategy for Accelerating the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, which aims to reduce the number of deaths from cervical cancer by 90% by 2030.


Since its founding in 1948, the World Health Organization has played a critical role in improving global health. From eradicating smallpox to addressing emerging pandemics, WHO has been at the forefront of efforts to promote health and well-being worldwide.