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World Health Organization

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The World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organisation is the principal directing and co-ordinating authority within the UN system on international health work. It is mandated to prevent and eradicate epidemic and endemic diseases and to improve the nutritional, sanitary, hygienic and environmental conditions of people around the world. Founded in 1948, the organisation also furnishes emergency medical aid at the request of governments and provides services and facilities to groups with special needs.

In an effort to increase co-operation, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Health Organisation agreed in March 1997 on a series of shared objectives relating to refugees, returnees and, where appropriate, internally displaced persons.

They include reducing the mortality, disease, and disability rates among refugees; providing refugees with adequate, timely, and cost effective health services; co-ordinating health and nutritional policies to achieve globally accepted standards; and helping returnees to reintegrate into their local communities.

In addition, the two UN agencies agreed to anticipate and address the health needs of refugees both at the national and international level by working closely with non-governmental organisations and other groups.

WHO also sends doctors and other health professionals to UNHCR operations and supports the refugee agency, governments, and other institutions in the co-ordination of humanitarian health programmes. The two organisations jointly consult with host governments and donors to determine health measures for beneficiaries within the context of ongoing national development efforts.