History and Mission

In 1945, three physicians, Drs. Szeming Sze of China, Karl Evang of Norway, and Geraldo de Paula Souza of Brazil, proposed the formulation of a single health organization that would address the health needs of the world's people. Their joint declaration to establish an international health organization was approved when the constitution of the WHO was adopted in 1946.

The preamble to the constitution defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." The initial priorities for world health care included initiatives to address malaria, maternal and child health, tuberculosis, venereal diseases, nutrition and environmental sanitation, public health administration, parasitic diseases, viral diseases, mental health, and other activities.

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