Intended for healthcare professionals


Global functions at the World Health Organization

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 12 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1099
  1. Jennifer Prah Ruger (, assistant professor,
  2. Derek Yach, professor
  1. Yale University School of Medicine, PO Box 208034, New Haven, CT 06520-8034, USA
  2. Yale University School of Medicine, PO Box 208034, New Haven, CT 06520-8034, USA

    WHO must reassert its role in integrating, coordinating, and advancing the worldwide agenda on health

    Delegates from the World Health Organization's 191 member states convene in Geneva this week to review WHO's proposed 2006-7 budget and to prioritise the organisation's core functions. This is a good time, therefore, to consider the optimal balance that WHO could strike between its global role in advocacy, surveillance, standard setting, and research as compared with its more operational work in specific countries and regions.

    Embedded Image

    Combat tuberculosis locally, but don't forget the W in WHO stands for World

    Credit: P VIROT/WHO

    Accelerating globalisation has changed dramatically the context in which WHO works, offering both opportunities and challenges for health and its distribution.1 The transfer of knowledge and technology and the sharing of best practices, treatments, and health strategies provide real benefits to previously unserved populations.2 All countries can benefit from international standards for health and sustained advocacy on their behalf. Globalisation can also benefit health indirectly, promoting gender equality3 and human rights4 and better prospects for trade, information technology, and economic growth.5

    But globalisation has also hastened the …

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