International organisations at the G20

World Health Organization

General information

The World Health Organization (WHO) was established in 1946 and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a specialised agency of the United Nations. Its rules were adopted on 7 April 1948, which is why World Health Day is marked on that date each year. A total of 194 countries across the world are members of the WHO. One of the primary objectives of the WHO is to achieve the "highest level of health and well-being for all people". That above all means fighting serious epidemics that could threaten entire population groups. One important preventive measure is improving hygiene and sanitary facilities in many countries.

Dr Margaret Chan was born in Hong Kong in 1947. She was appointed Director-General of the WHO in 2006 and then re-appointed in May 2012 for a second term in office until 30 June 2017. She is the first person from the People's Republic of China to head a specialised agency of the United Nations. Dr Chan completed her degree in Medicine at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. After returning to Hong Kong, she in 1978 joined the Department of Health of what was then still a British colony. Between 1994 and 2003 she was Director of Health in Hong Kong, during which time she was responsible for managing outbreaks of avian flu in 1997 and of SARS in 2003.

Further information
World Health Organization website