The World Health Organization (WHO), founded in 1948, is an agency of the United Nations (UN) specializing in public health. It purports to fight infectious diseases and promote general health. Some diseases about which the WHO is concerned include SARS, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, and HIV/AIDS. The WHO focuses on distributing vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs as part of its mandate. The WHO has claimed victory in eradicating smallpox and is attempting to do the same with polio.
The organization monitors health care progress in UN member countries and presents health campaigns worldwide in such areas as nutrition and tobacco avoidance. The WHO pursues health research in communicable diseases on a regular basis and also examines potential injurious substances and machinery. One example of this would be cell phone use and the ability of cell phone signals to cause cancers.
Sometimes the WHO's recommendations can be controversial, as when it recommended that the adult diet contain no more than 10 percent sugar. The sugar industry made its unhappiness known, but the WHO stood by its analysis. Its Surgical Safety Checklist is used around the world to help ensure safer surgeries.
Despite the vast scope and impact of the WHO, it has numerous critics who maintain the agency is incompetent, bureaucratic and a Trojan Horse for the pharmaceutical industry. The WHO emphasizes both pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, but makes little critical analysis of either available. The WHO has also come under fire for aggravating various health scares in order to create a higher profile for its own mission and leadership. Most recently its leadership predicted disastrous consequences from a swine flu epidemic that never materialized.
On balance, the WHO's vast budget, general ineffectiveness and consistent alarmism make it difficult to evaluate the overall organization positively. Like most large UN agencies, it administers an enormous budget with little outside supervision, and one can assume that – as usually happens in such circumstances – there is tremendous waste and corruption associated with its ongoing operations. It seems, also, to operate as much as a subsidiary of Big Pharma as of the UN; its uncritical acceptance and endorsement of pharmaceutical drugs, many of which end up being seen as poisonous to the human system, buttresses Western medicine's fixation with providing "fixes" for illness rather than adjustments that bring the system back in balance.
Its endorsement and enforcement of Codex Alimentarius is most questionable as well, as the Codex seeks to bar people from using nutritional therapies including vitamins to help restore healthy bodily function. In this area too, one can see the WHO acting as a proponent of the pharmaceutical industry rather than as an advocate for individual health.