Timeline of the World Health Organization

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This is a timeline of the World Health Organization (WHO), describing significant events in the history of the agency.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
1940s WHO is established in the late 1940s.
1950s WHO starts proposing programs to promote primary health care around the world.[1] Eradication campaigns are launched for yaws, smallpox and malaria, among other programs.
1960s WHO begins a planetwide campaign to eradicate the mosquitoes that transmit malaria. During the 1960s and early 1970s WHO functions as the omnipotent supplier and standardizing authority of the world's experimental pharmaceuticals.[2]
1970s WHO undertakes a massive smallpox eradication campaign.[3] The Expanded Program on Immunization is created in 1974. The Alma Ata Declaration is adopted in 1978.
1980s WHO becomes the first major organization and the first intergovernmental agency to begin mobilizing for HIV/AIDS prevention and care.[4]
1990s WHO remains one of only a few key players in global health, alongside organizations like the World Bank and other health-related UN organizations.[5]

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Location
1945 Prelude The United Nations Conference in San Francisco unanimously approves the establishment of a new, autonomous international health organization.[6][7] United States
1946 (July) The Constitution of the World Health Organization is approved by the International Health Conference in New York.[7] United States
1947 (February 6) The epidemiological information service is established.[7]
1948 (April 7) Creation The World Health Organization Constitution comes into force.[6][7]
1948 (August 6) The International Classification of Disease is created by WHO, as the global standard to report and categorize diseases, health-related conditions and external causes of disease and injury.[7]
1948 (September 6) Canadian doctor Brock Chisholm assumes office as WHO's first Director-General.[8]
1949 Publication WHO publishes ICD-6, the sixth revision of the International statistical classification of diseases, which includes a section on mental disorders for the first time.[9]
1949 The WHO's committee on mental health acknowledges that alcoholism is a public health issue.[10]
1949 Policy WHO adopts a definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”[11]
1950 (February 6) The World Health Assembly establishes World Health Day to take place annually on 7 April.[7]
1950 (May 6) Program WHO launches massive immunization with the bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, to protect children from tuberculosis.[7]
1950 Epidemiology WHO estimates that 160 million people are infected with yaws, 1 million with endemic syphilis, and 0.7 million with pinta.[12]
1951 Policy WHO adopts the International Sanitary Regulations – renamed International Health Regulations (IHR) in 1969 – with the objective of maximum prevention of the spread of infectious diseases with minimal disruption of travel and trade.[13]
1952 (Febuary 6) Program In partnership with UNICEF, WHO starts a massive international campaign to eradicate yaws, a tropical skin disease of the poor occurring in almost 100 countries.[14][7]
1952 Program WHO initiates a planetwide vaccination campaign to eradicate smallpox.[15]
1953 Program WHO launches an antimalaria program in the upcountry region of Central Province, Liberia, as a pilot project to determine the feasibility of malaria eradication in tropical Africa. The malaria control project in Monrovia constitutes the first large-scale use of synthetic insecticide to combat malaria in tropical Africa, and the WHO pilot project in Central Province is one of a first cluster of projects initiated to explore the efficacy of indoor residual spraying in a variety of African ecological zones.[16][17] Liberia
1953 (February 6) Leadership Brazilian medical doctor Marcolino Gomes Candau assumes office as WHO's Director-General. [8]
1954 Growth WHO reaches 81 members, nineteen more than the United Nations.[18]
1955 Program WHO launches the most ambitious public health program to date, the global eradication of malaria. The Global Malaria Eradication Programme is designed to rid the world of the parasitic disease at its source. Insecticide DDT is adopted as predominant method of insect control.[19] The program has the goal of eliminating the disease within 10 years.[20][21]
1956 Program WHO develops an international program to collect information about resistant populations of pests, methods of detection and evaluation of the resistance, and the use of alternative plant protection products.[22]
1957 Program WHO begins a US$ 6 billion campaign to rid the world of malaria using a combination of DDT and chloroquine.[23]
1957 Program WHO permits Polish American medical researcher Albert Sabin to test his polio vaccine in Chile, Holland, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Sweden.[24] Chile, Netherlands, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Sweden
1957 Publication WHO publishes Requirements for Yellow Fever Vaccine, which standardizes the seed lot and manufacturing procedures.[25]
1958 Policy WHO sets the first International Drinking Water Standard for arsenic concentration at 200 µg L-1.[26]
1959 Publication WHO establishes the Advisory Committee for Medical Research (ACMR) to provide advice on medical research to the Director.[27]
1959 Program WHO initiates a plan to eradicate smallpox at a worldwide level.[28][29][30]
1960 Publication WHO publishes the first comprehensive report of the magnitude of iodine deficiency worldwide.[31]
1961 Policy WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization jointly create the joint Codex Alimentarius Commission in order to regulate the food safety by establishing international standards regarding processing, labeling, sampling of analysis, hygienic requirements, etc., of food commodities.[32]
1962 Publication WHO publishes the first international report on the importance of blood pressure control.[33]
1963 The oral polio vaccine is licensed.[7]
1963 Policy WHO recommends lowering the International Drinking Water Standard from 200 to 50 µg L-1 for arsenic concentration.[26]
1963 Program WHO establishes a system for the collection and distribution of information on viruses.[34]
1963 Organization WHO and FAO create the Codex Alimentarius Commission, joining 173 signatories from the European Community (EC) countries in order to control the tolerable limits of pollutants in food.[35]
1964 Policy WHO devises the Declaration of Helsinki, with 22 preconditions for human examination.[36] Finland
1964 WHO introduces the concept of dependence, replacing and redefining the concept of addiction and encompassing the effects of the increasing variety of drugs available on the market.[37]
1964 WHO establishes the primary categories of residential satisfaction as safety, health, efficiency, and amenity.[38]
1965 Publication WHO publishes diagnostic criteria for diabetes mellitus.[39]
1965 Organization The International Agency for Research on Cancer is established.[7]
1966 The new headquarters building of the WHO is inaugurated in Geneva, Switzerland.[7] Switzerland
1966 Program WHO launches the Smallpox Eradication Program, a mass vaccination campaign using new technology, freeze-dried vaccines, to allow for longer storage and transportation.[40]
1967 Program WHO launches the Intensified Global Smallpox Eradication Program, with the goal of vaccinating at least eighty percent of the world’s at-risk population.[41]
1968 Publication WHO publishes guidelines on the Principles and practice of screening for disease. Although these principles would be modified in 2008 and adjusted to screening based on genomic technologies, the main principles of screening, known as Wilson’s criteria, are still valid.[42]
1969 The International Sanitary Regulations are renamed International Health Regulations.[7]
1969 Program WHO suspends the Global Malaria Eradication Programme, after anopheles mosquitoes are found to develop resistance to DDT and continue to reproduce and spread disease in humans.[21]
1970 Policy WHO convenes a committee to classify and define the primary immunodeficiency diseases (PIDs). This expert committee accomplishes its task of creating a unified nomenclature for the then-known PIDs.[43]
1970 Policy WHO recognizes Ayurveda as a health science and as a traditional health system.[44] India
1972 WHO introduces a classification of salivary gland tumors that would gain almost universal acceptance.[45]
1972 Policy WHO declares noise as a pollutant.[46]
1973 Growth WHO celebrates its 25th anniversary with 138 member states.[18]
1973 Leadership Danish physician Halfdan T. Mahler assumes office as WHO's Director-General.[8]
1974 Program WHO creates the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), a worldwide effort mobilized to help countries increase immunization coverage of basic childhood vaccines—diphtheria, measles, pertussis, polio, tetanus, and tuberculosis—using the third dose of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP3) as a measure of progress.[47]
1974 Program WHO launches the Onchocerciasis Control Programme in collaboration with the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization.[7]
1975 Policy WHO introduces the global concept of essential medicines as those that meet the health needs of the majority of the population.[48][49]
1975 Program WHO and the United States Agency for International Development embark on new programs aimed at developing a malaria vaccine.[50]
1975 Epidemiology WHO declares Europe free of malaria.[51] Europe
1975 Program WHO establishes the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases.[7]
1976 WHO officially recognizes the potential value of traditional practitioners and folk healers to deliver healthcare.[52]
1976 Epidemiology WHO estimates worldwide disability prevalence at 10%.[53]
1977 WHO publishes the first essential medicines list.[7]
1978 Treaty WHO and UNICEF jointly host a conference in Kazakhstan that results in the Alma-Ata Declaration, in which primary health care is defined by leaders as ensuring that everyone, regardless of where they live, whether rich or poor, is able to access services and conditions necessary for realizing the best possible health.[54] The concept "Health for all by 2000" is introduced at the conference.[55] Kazakhstan
1979 WHO holds an interregional seminar in which it defines a number of diseases for which acupuncture could be considered to be potentially helpful.[56]
1980 Epidemiology WHO declares smallpox as officially eradicated from the world.[15]
1981 Policy WHO adopts the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (International Code), with the purpose of contributing to the safe and adequate provision of nutrition for infants by protecting and promoting breastfeeding and ensuring that breast milk substitutes, when necessary, are used properly through adequate information and appropriate marketing and distribution.[57]
1982 WHO asks an international group of investigators to develop a simple screening instrument to identify persons who are at risk of developing alcohol problems.[58]
1983 Program WHO initiates the program "Smoking or Health" to focus public attention on the hazards of smoking.[59]
1984 Policy WHO develops a system of guidelines for the quality of drinking-water.[60]
1985 WHO holds the first international meeting on maternal mortality.[61]
1986 Publication WHO develops guidelines for cancer pain treatment.[62]
1987 WHO recommends against universal mandatory HIV testing for all international travelers.[63]
1988 Leadership Japanese doctor Hiroshi Nakajima assumes office as WHO's Director-General.[8]
1988 Program WHO establishes as an objective the global eradication of poliomyelitis by the year 2000.[64] The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is established in collaboration with Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF.[7]
1988 The World Health Assembly endorses a resolution on non-discrimination against people living with AIDS.[7]
1989 Program WHO adopts the goal of eliminating neonatal tetanus as a public health problem worldwide.[65]
1990 WHO establishes one of the first widely used definitions of palliative care: “the active, total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment.”[66]
1991 Program WHO initiates a project to simultaneously develop a quality of life (QOL) instrument in 15 countries: The World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) instrument. This is intended as a generic QOL tool for use with patients across varying disease types, severities of illness, and cultural subgroups.[67]
1991 Program The World Health Assembly adopts a resolution to eliminate leprosy.[7]
1992 Program WHO sets a goal for all countries to introduce hepatitis B vaccine into national routine infant immunization programs by 1997.[68]
1993 Policy WHO declares tuberculosis a global emergency because of the scale of the epidemic and the urgent need to improve global tuberculosis control.[69]
1994 WHO undergoes a major restructuring, in large part to meet the needs of the Children's Vaccine Initiative (CVI). A key result is the creation of the Global Program on Vaccines, which would later oversee the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), the Programme for Vaccine Development, and WHO's vaccine supply and quality-control operations.[70]
1995 Organization WHO establishes the International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication.[7]
1995 Program WHO launches the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) with the aim to control morbidity due to the parasitic infectious disease onchocerciasis (river blindness).[71] Africa
1995 The Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal is launched by the Eastern Mediterranean Regional office of World Health Organisation.[72]
1995 Publication WHO launches the Directly observed treatment, short-course (DOTS) strategy for tuberculosis control.[7]
1996 Program WHO establishes the International Electromagnetic Fields Project to investigate potential health risks associated with technologies emitting EMF.[73]
1996 Organization UNAIDS is created with six founding partner agencies.[7]
1997 Growth WHO turns 50 and reaches 191 member states.[18]
1998 Leadership Norwegian politician Gro Harlem Brundtland assumes office as WHO's Director-General.[8]
1998 Program WHO establishes the Global Buruli Ulcer Initiative to draw attention to buruli ulcer (the third most common mycobacterial infection) and mobilize international efforts to understand and deal with it.[74]
1999 Program WHO initiates a series of meetings designed to create a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Envisioned as a comprehensive, international, multilateral effort to reduce smoking rates, abate smoking-related illnesses, and regulate the trade, sale, and marketing of tobacco products, the FCTC marks the first truly global public health effort against tobacco consumption.[75]
2000 Publication WHO publishes The World Health Report 2000 – Health Systems: Improving Performance, which introduces a framework for evaluating and ranking healthcare with the stated objective of “improving the performance of health systems around the world”.[76]
2000 Organization The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network is established.[7]
2000 Program 189 Member States of the United Nations unanimously adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, resulting in the Millennium Development Goals.[7]
2000 Organization The Commission on Macroeconomics and Health is established to assess the impact of health on development.[7]
2001 Program WHO launches a series of initiatives to put mental health on the global policy agenda and make it more visible throughout the world, and develops a set of instruments and programs.[77]
2001 Program WHO launches the Measles Initiative in partnership with the American Red Cross, UNICEF, the United Nations Foundation and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[7]
2002 Publication WHO publishes a health system performance ranking for 191 member countries. The ranking is based on five indicators, with fixed weights common to all countries.[78]
2003 Leadership Korean public health doctor Lee Jong-wook assumes office as WHO's Director-General.[8]
2003 Publication In order to emphasize the need to promote oral health, WHO publishes a guidance document for every nation to define their goals in oral health indicators by the year 2020.[79]
2003 Treaty The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is adopted.[80]
2004 Policy WHO releases the first global policy on physical activity and develops a set of programs and policies needed within each country to reverse the trend of inactivity.[81]
2005 Publication WHO publishes a Resource Book (WHO-RB) on mental health, human rights and legislation, including a checklist of 175 specific items to be addressed in mental health legislation or policy in individual countries.[82]
2006 Leadership Swedish physician Anders Nordström assumes office as WHO's Director-General.[8]
2006 Policy WHO launches new growth standards for application to all children regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and feeding mode. By 2011, 125 countries would adopt these standards, with another 25 considering their adoption, and 30 not adopting them.[83]
2007 Leadership Chinese-Canadian physician Margaret Chan assumes office as WHO's Director-General.[8]
2007 Program WHO establishes an international network of biodosimetry laboratories, the BioDoseNet, with the goal to support international cooperation and capacity building in the area of biodosimetry around the world, including harmonisation of protocols and techniques to enable them to provide mutual assistance during a mass casualty event.[84]
2008 Program WHO launches the Safe Surgery Saves Lives campaign and produces the ‘Surgical Safety Checklist’ (SSC) designed to reduce complications and deaths associated with surgery.[85]
2009 Program WHO launches the Enhanced Global Strategy for Further Reducing the Disease Burden due to Leprosy for 2011–2015, under which the target becomes to reduce the number of new cases of leprosy with grade 2 disability per 100,000 total population by at least 35% between the end of 2010 and the end of 2015.[86] The goals are not likely to be met, with statistics indicating that new cases and those with G2D either stagnated or increased in the period.[87]
2010 Policy WHO issues a global Code of Practice with the purpose to control international migration of health professionals.[88]
2011 WHO develops a Global Monitoring Framework (GMF) to enable tracking of progress in preventing and controlling major noncommunicable diseases and their key risk factors – tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.[89]
2012 Publication WHO publishes a roadmap that sets targets for the eradication, elimination and intensified control of 17 neglected tropical diseases.[90]
2012 (November 12) Treaty WHO adopts the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products with the purpose of eliminating all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products.[91]
2013 Program WHO establishes the Global Forum on Innovation for Ageing Populations as an information exchange platform for diverse stakeholders to address the challenge of meeting the needs of older people in low resource settings with frugal innovations.[92]
2014 Policy WHO declares that polio is a public health emergency of international concern.[93]
2014 Program WHO develops the End TB Strategy in response to a World Health Assembly Resolution requesting Member States to end the worldwide epidemic of tuberculosis by 2035.[94]
2015 Publication WHO publishes its World report on aging and health, with aims at bringing to global attention a whole range of issues related to the health and well-being of older individuals and populations across the entire spectrum of high- middle- and low-income countries.[95]
2016 Program WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launch the Global Hearts initiative, which focuses on the noncommunicable disease burden due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. The initiative provides a simple framework that enables front-line health clinics to implement WHO’s call to integrate cardiovascular disease care into primary disease prevention.[96]
2017 Publication WHO publishes guidelines for the management of advanced human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease within a public health approach.[97]
2017 Leadership Ethiopian politician Tedros Adhanom assumes office as WHO's Director-General.[8]

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See also

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References

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