THE ACTIVITIES OF WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION IN NIGERIA (1960-2012)
The United Nations, since its inception, has been actively involved in promoting and protecting good health world wide. Leading that effort within the United Nations system is the World Health Organisation (WHO); an international agency concerned with world wide health and welfare. It is one of the agencies of the United Nations whose purpose is to aid in the attainment of the highest possible level of health by all people. Programs include; education for current health issues, proper food supply and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, maternal and child health immunization against major infectious diseases and prevention and control of disease. WHO is coordinating global strategies to control and prevent Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Its function include furnishing technical assistance, stimulating and advancing epidemiologic investigation of diseases, recommending health regulation promoting cooperation among scientific and professional health groups and providing information and counsel to health matters. Its headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland. 2
At the outset, it was decided that WHO’s top priorities would be malaria, women’s and children’s health, tuberculosis, venereal disease, nutrition and environmental sanitation. Many of those remain on WHO’s agenda today, in addition to such relatively new disease as HIV/AIDS. 3
In 1948, WHO took over the responsibility for the international classification of disease, which has become the international standard for clinical and epidemiological purposes. Between 1952 and 1964, WHO’s efforts had reduced the global prevalent of Yaws – a crippling and disfiguring disease that afflicted some 50 million people in 1950 – by more than 95 percent. Between 1967 and 1979, WHO’s effort led to the eradication of small pox the only time a major infections disease has been completely eradicated. Since its global polio eradication initiative was launched in 1988, through 2008, the number of cases was reduced by more than 99 percent – from 350,000 per year to less than 2,000. 4
WHO staff are at work on the ground in 147 countries worldwide. They advise ministries of health on technical issues and provide assistance on prevention, treatment and care services throughout the health sector. Six regional office coordinate and support these efforts, while giving special attention to adapting global HIV/AIDS policies to fit the specific needs of their region – for example in sub-Saharan Africa, where the epidemic is largely spread by heterosexual sex, as compare with eastern Europe, where injecting drug use is the primary mode of transmission. 5
In short WHO intervention cover all areas of the global health – care spectrum, including crisis interventional and the response to humanitarian emergencies; establishing international health regulations, which countries must follow to identify diseases outbreaks and stop them from spreading; preventing chronic disease and working to achieve the health – related millennium development goals (MDGs). In the lead up to the millennium development goals summit, the secretary – General launched a global effort convening 40 keys leaders to define a collective strategy of accelerating progress on women’s and children’s health.