**WHA: World Health Assembly


Committee Overview:

At the 1945 founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco, the delegates from China and Brazil suggested the establishment of an international health organization that works within the UN’s jurisdiction. Though a number of health organizations existed, including the International Office of Public Hygiene and the Health Organization of the League of Nations, the end of World War II called for the creation of a “single worldwide intergovernmental health organization, within the general framework of the United Nations, which would not only assume responsibility for the work of the earlier bodies but have an extended role necessitated by the new problems arising of the war.” Thus, the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) was adopted on 7 April 1948 for the purpose of “providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.” A number of guidelines were put into place to ensure the WHO functioned properly. For example, Article 70 of the WHO’s constitution stipulated the establishment of close relations between the World Health Organization and other inter-governmental organizations, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). After its constitution was adopted, the WHO “subsumed within its organizational structure the activities” of the aforementioned global health organizations.

Topic: The Impact of Environmental Change on Health

Analyzing past and current health outbreaks and concerns, it is clear that the health of the international community is being compromised by environmental degradation. It is the global community’s responsibility to lessen the effects of environmental harm and depletion. Such effects include pollution, which can arise from carbon emissions, cook stoves, and industrial furnaces. Other effects include the cultivation of bacteria and viruses from polluted bodies of water, which lead to about 1,000 child deaths each year. Some other examples of global health deterioration include asthma, lung cancer, lead and mercury poisoning, and even Ebola and Zika viruses. The UNEP’s Executive Director, Achim Steiner, says, “the spread of Zika, just as with Ebola, has sent a strong signal to the international community that there is a need for increased attention to the linkages between environment and health.”