The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for 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.

WHO fulfils its objectives through its core functions:

  • providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
  • shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
  • setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
  • articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
  • providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity;
  • monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.

The WHO has a regional office (WHO/Europe) that works in the European area in a Region of 53 countries, which are home to nearly 900 million people. Its headquarters are in Copenhagen, Denmark and has 29 country offices.

WHO/Europe programmes address many topics, such as the social determinants of health, communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), health systems, health information, family and community health, and environment and health.

At the moment the WHO/ Europe priority areas are:

  • investing in health through a life-course approach and empowering people;
  • tackling the Region’s major health challenges of NCDs and communicable diseases;
  • strengthening people-centred health systems, public health capacity and emergency preparedness, and surveillance and response;
  • creating resilient communities and supportive environments.