When the name ‘World Health Organization’ (WHO) is mentioned, most people have a pretty good idea of what it is. This is mostly because the name is quite self explanatory and the best (and shortest) description of who they are and what they do. For those who don’t know who they are, here follows a description of who the WHO exactly is.
“Our goal is to build a better, healthier future for people all over the world. Working through offices in more than 150 countries, WHO staff work side by side with governments and other partners to ensure the highest attainable level of health for all people.” (World Health Organization)
It started all out with the United Nations (UN), which was officially formed on October 24 in 1945. During the time of forming the UN, one idea was of having an organization that was focused on the global health. Although it was later on April 7 in 1948 that the WHO Constitution came into force, which is now the date that World Health Day is celebrated.
With the WHO now having over 7000 employees working across 150 country offices, they have grown into one of the biggest organizations in the world. They have their headquarters located in the beautiful city of Geneva. The WHO has a leader role when it comes to the global health situation. They direct and coordinate the international health within the United Nation system, monitoring the health situation, assessing health trends and providing technical support. You could say that they make sure everything regarding global health is working the way it should work.
One of the areas the WHO works in are the noncummunicable diseases (NCDs). This program is also the program I will be focussing on. NCDs include heart diseases, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, and mental health conditions – together with violence and injuries – are together responsible for more than 70% of all deaths worldwide. Cancer, diabetes, heart and lung disease are the biggest killers, with an estimate of around 38 million deaths annually. Of that number, 16 million die prematurely, which is before the age of 70.
To reduce the risk of getting the previously listed NCDs one should pay attention to the following, because the major risk factors are the use of tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet. If you keep these things in mind you could reduce the risk, even prevent, of getting an NCD. However, there is a bigger issue at play regarding the risk of NCDs. One thing that the WHO is trying to fight is the inequality in treatment for the NCDs in the world. Often it is the environment people live in that causes the risks as well. Poverty is closely linked to NCDs, people who live in low-resource settings are vulnerable and socially disadvantaged. They are at a greater risk of being exposed to tobacco and unhealthy food, with limited access to health services. This is the reason they sooner get sicker than people who of a higher social position. Those of a higher social postion have a better chance of being treated, since often they have the resources to pay for treatment. Where others of the low-resource settings often drive themselves into poverty trying to deal with the NCDs. Of course in many countries, in both the lower and higher income groups, harmful drinking, tobacco use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivety occur. However, the high-income groups can afford and have more acces to services and products that help them and protect them, than the low-income groups. This is might be the core of the problem, and the WHO is trying to tackle this to reduce the deaths of NCDs globally.