The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organization, was an agency of the League of Nations.
The constitution of the World Health Organization had been signed by all 69 countries of the United Nations by 22 July 1946, with the first meeting of the World Health Assembly finishing on 24 July 1948. It incorporated the Office International d'Hygiène Publique and the League of Nations Health Organization. Since its creation, it has played a leading role in the eradication of smallpox. Its current priorities include communicable diseases, in particular, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis; the mitigation of the effects of non-communicable diseases; sexual and reproductive health, development, and aging; nutrition, food security and healthy eating; occupational health; substance abuse; and drive the development of reporting, publications, and networking. WHO is responsible for the World Health Report, a leading international publication on health, the worldwide World Health Survey, and World Health Day (7th April of every year).
Its links with the International Atomic Energy Agency and distribution of contraception have both proved controversial, as have guidelines on healthy eating and the 2009 flu pandemic.
The use of the word "world", rather than "international", emphasized the truly global nature of what the organization was seeking to achieve. The constitution of the World Health Organization had been signed by all 61 countries of the United Nations by 22 July 1946. It thus became the first specialised agency of the United Nations to which every member subscribed. Its constitution formally came into force on the first World Health Day on 7 April 1948, when it was ratified by the 26th member state. The first meeting of the World Health Assembly finished on 24 July 1948, having secured a budget of US$5 million (then GBP£1,250,000) for the 1949 year. Andrija Stampar was the Assembly's first president, and G. Brock Chisholm was appointed Director-General of WHO, having served as Executive Secretary during the planning stages.