16 November 2006

The WHO strikes mid-life crisis - Next year, the World Health Organization is 50 years old. Unfortunately, there will be no shortage of party poopers at the birthday celebrations

  • 11 January 1997
  • Phyllida Brown
  • Magazine issue 2064

WHEN the WHO declared that its goal was to achieve "health for all by the year 2000", nobody seemed to think the idea ridiculous. After all, it was 1978. AIDS was unknown. The WHO had played a major role in fighting smallpox, which was eradicated in 1977, and in helping poorer countries to produce essential drugs cheaply. The WHO was taken seriously.

Today, things could scarcely be more different. The WHO is in crisis. It has become a bit-part player on the international stage. It is increasingly under fire for its lack of leadership and failure to modernise. The events of the next 12 months are likely to decide its future.

Next week, the executive board—the governing body drawn from the WHO's member states—gathers in Geneva. The meeting is expected to be tense. The US is threatening to reduce its contribution, which would leave the organisation short of $20 million ...

The complete article is 1684 words long.
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