Global functions at the World Health Organization
WHO must reassert its role in integrating, coordinating, and advancing the worldwide agenda on health say Jennifer Prah Ruger and Derek Yach
Delegates from the World Health Organization's 191 member states convened in Geneva in May to review WHO's proposed 2006-7 budget and to prioritise the organisation's core functions. This is a good time, therefore, to consider the optimal balance that WHO could strike between its global role in advocacy, surveillance, standard setting, and research as compared with its more operational work in specific countries and regions.
Accelerating globalisation has changed dramatically the context in which WHO works, offering both opportunities and challenges for health and its distribution.1 The transfer of knowledge and technology and the sharing of best practices, treatments, and health strategies provide real benefits to previously unserved populations.2 All countries can benefit from international standards for health and sustained advocacy on their behalf. Globalisation can also benefit health indirectly, promoting gender equality3 and human rightsw4 and better prospects for trade, information technology, and economic growth.5
But globalisation has also