A World Health Organization Primer

Srimathy Vijayan, MS IV

In This Article

The Future of WHO

The MDGs are one of WHO's major current objectives, and they, along with the Director-General's focus on the health of Africa and the health of women, will inform much of WHO's future work. Even projects that do not directly address the MDGs may indirectly lead to progress. For example, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse has 2 current projects. The first is the development of opioid dependency guidelines, and the second is work conducted for the possible implementation of a global alcohol policy to be adopted by WHO. Although these projects seem distant in relation to the MDGs, a closer look clarifies that many of the projects are important steps to tackling the MDGs. This is because the first goal of the MDGs is to eradicate extreme poverty, and given that many of the worst health outcomes are associated with poverty, it seems that all the health-related work that WHO conducts will have implications for poverty-stricken areas. In this sense, all programs can be viewed as helping to achieve the MDGs.

Since 2000, there has been increased interaction with other sectors in the field of global health,[19] and this trend seems likely to continue. This in turn has led to much discussion about what WHO's role in global health will be and whether these organizations can work together to serve public health needs.[20,21] However, there are some tasks that WHO, with its highly qualified and skilled workforce, will continue to lead, predominantly guideline production. With the help of its new Guideline Review Committee, WHO will continue to produce guidelines using explicit and transparent consideration of the best available evidence, adding to its international credibility[22] and setting norms and standards across the world.


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