Who’s the WHO (World Health Organization)?

The global watchdog of the Earth’s wellbeing
Rahman Mohamed

With images of Syrian refugees living in extreme conditions, many Canadians are thanking their condition and thinking how to improve their situation.  They are trying to find the best meal.

Syrians in refugee camps are thinking more about where to sleep, how to keep their teeth clean, how to survive getting old, even though they will (hopefully) turn 45 at some point and thinking about the health of friends and family who’ve been taken prisoner and children in refugee camps.  There have been many fundraisers to help Syrian refugees.  To make sure the funds raised are used for most necessary health products there’s a UN body to oversee: the WHO (World Health Organization).

What is the World Health Organization (WHO)?

It’s a branch of the United Nations created to provide global leadership in health, create global norms and standards and monitor and assess health trends.

Their agenda includes promoting health development – increasing access to health in poverty stricken areas of the world, fostering health security – protecting the world from outbreaks and epidemic-prone diseases, strengthening health systems – helping health services improve, harnessing research, information and evidence, enhancing partnerships, and improving the performance of health care systems. With a user friendly website people around the world can find information on a variety of health topics ranging from ageing, oral health, HIV/AIDS, air pollution, medical waste, violence against women, and ethics (international standards of conduct in medicine).

It endorses vaccines and immunization (including the flu vaccine) as they’re “a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases . . . is one of the most cost-effective health investments . . . can be delivered effectively through outreach activities; and vaccination does not require any major lifestyle change.”  Recently it posted a statement about the Zika virus – key facts, signs and symptoms, complications, transmission, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.  Working with supporting countries WHO is taking actions outlined in the “Zika Strategic Response Framework”.

If you live in Canada, WHO standards say you should be happy for your physical health; according to the Canada: Health Profile from the World Health Organization, released May 2013, the health care system in the Great White North isn’t dark. Canadians have a life expectancy of 82 years at birth, 12 years higher than the global average. The prevalence of HIV (per 100,000) is almost 60% lower than the global average; tuberculosis (per 100,000) in Canada is over 95% lower.

Not only that, compared to the rest of the Americas, Canadians have more nurses and doctors and they try to be healthier by visiting them and getting immunizations. The nation even spends more on healthcare; over $5000 per person compared to a regional average of just over $3000. The only place it falls short is obesity in males aged 20+; Canadians have more boys at risk of becoming obese than the rest of the Americas.

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