Current Board Members

The World Health Organization (WHO)

Board Chair: Dr Lee Jong-wook, Director-General
Board member: Dr Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director-General for Family and Community Health (FCH)

The World Health Organization was founded in 1948. A specialized agency of the United Nations with 191 Member States, WHO promotes technical cooperation for health among nations, carries out programmes to control and eradicate disease, and strives to improve the quality of human life. Its objective is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible levels of health.

WHO has four main functions:

  • To give worldwide guidance in the field of health
  • To set global standards for health
  • To cooperate with governments in strengthening national health programmes
  • To develop and transfer appropriate health technology, information and standards

WHO’s major achievements include the eradication of smallpox, a disease that scarred and killed millions before being officially declared eradicated in 1980. Eradication resulted in a huge reduction of human suffering and great financial savings. Other diseases, such as polio and guinea-worm, are now on the threshold of eradication and leprosy is also being overcome. But, as well as fighting infectious disease, WHO is the leading international public health agency in efforts to improve access to and equality of health care, fight a growing worldwide burden of non-communicable diseases, deliver essential drugs and support the development of new drugs, promote healthy lifestyles and environments, and develop quantitative methods to analyse health policy options. Of particular concern to WHO is the link between poverty and health and WHO is working with the international community to ensure that health is made a priority of international development efforts.

WHO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with six Regional Offices covering the globe and over 100 country offices. Its supreme decision-making body is the World Health Assembly, which meets annually.

For more information about WHO, see .

WHO’s role in GAVI

WHO is a partner in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and WHO’s Director-General, Dr Lee Jong-wook, is currently Chair of the GAVI Board. The GAVI Implementation Task Force, which was responsible for developing and identifying the best mechanisms for bringing together stakeholders’ activities at national level, was coordinated by WHO.

WHO’s Department of Vaccines and Biologicals is charged with ensuring that all people at risk should be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases ( ). On the basis of targets established by the World Health Assembly, three major objectives have been defined for the Department. The three objectives are: Innovation, Immunization Systems, and Accelerated Disease Control. Each of these broad objectives is anchored with one time-limited priority project with specific measurable goals. For Innovation, the priority project is the accelerated introduction of new vaccines. For Immunization Systems, the priority project is to increase immunization safety. And for Accelerated Disease Control, the priority is polio eradication.

GAVI Partners

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation



The World Bank Group

Developing Country Governments

Nongovernmental Organization

Industrialized Country Governments

Research Institutes

Vaccine Industry-Industrialized Country

Technical Health Institutes

Vaccine Industry-Developing Country


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