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60 Ways the UN Makes a Difference


 
 Health for All 

In 1977, the World Health Assembly decided that the major social goal of governments and WHO should be the attainment by all people of the world by the year 2000 of a level of health that would permit them to lead a socially and economically productive life.

In 1981, the Assembly unanimously adopted the Global Strategy for Health for All by the Year 2000. This was the birth of the “Health for All” movement.

“Health for All” does not mean an end to disease and disability, or that doctors and nurses will care for everyone. It means that resources for health are evenly distributed and that essential healthcare is accessible to everyone.

It also means that health begins at home, in schools, as well as the workplace, and that people use better approaches for preventing means that people recognise that ill health is not inevitable and that they can shape their own lives and those of their families from the avoidable burden of disease.

In 1994, WHO's member states acknowledged that significant global changes had occurred since that time, and called for a strategy renewal to meet challenges, expand opportunities, and overcome obstacles at the dawn of the 21st century.

WHO has been the driving force behind many achievements in ensuring health for all. One such achievement was the global eradication of smallpox, which was achieved after a ten–year campaign. Between 1980 and 1995, a joint UNCIF–WHO effort raised global immunisation coverage from 5% to 80% against six lethal disease—polio, tetanus, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria and tuberculosis—thus saving the lives of some 2.5 million children per year.

Considerable increases have been achieved in global life expectancy, which rose from an average of 46 in the 1950s to 65 years in 1995. Moreover, the life expectancy gap between rich and poor nations has decreased from 20 years in 1955 to 13.3 years in 1995.

WHO's role in those successes is based on its four global functions:

  • Providing global leadership in addressing to healthcare related issues;
  • Setting global health standards;
  • Maintaining partnerships with governments in strengthening their national health policies and programmes, and:
  • Facilitating the development and sound use of technologies in the area of health, information and standards.

Behind each of these functions is a tremendous amount of work, which is invisible at first glance. This includes standardisation of pharmaceuticals such as vaccines, medication, hormones and blood preparations. Furthermore, WHO has also created global safety standards for potable water, sanitation, air quality, food and food additives.

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