Skip to content


The World Health Organization.

During the COVID-19 pandemic Denmark has provided additional voluntary development cooperation support to WHO of 8 million DKK to the Contingency Fund for Emergencies and 50 million DKK to the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. A Danish political majority has early April decided an extra pledge of 50 million DKK to the WHO’s activities under the UN global humanitarian in support of the most vulnerable populations

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. WHO was founded 7th of April 1948. The objective of the organization is to ensure the highest possible level of health for all people. This is defined in the WHO constitution as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

The role of the WHO
WHO’s primary aim is to maintain, secure, and improve the state of health in the world. Its most important task is to coordinate international efforts in the health area. 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 has a key role in international efforts to strengthen social protection, particular for poor and vulnerable groups, and to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, including the fight against HIV/AIDS. It works together with governments, health authorities, NGO’s, universities, and research centres to create greater access to basic health services for all people. WHO also works to build up the competence of developing countries to take care of the health needs of their own citizens.
Following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the role of WHO in epidemics and other health emergencies was discussed extensively, and based on this it has been clearly stated that WHO should retain the lead role in such situations. WHO is now well underway with the establishment of a unified and significantly strengthened emergency program, which effectively enables the organisation to fill the required role as the senior operational (but not necessarily implementing) actor and technical expert in health crises. It furthermore, continues to play an important role in the general supervision and control of epidemics, e.g. through the International Health Regulations.
WHO is a specialized agency within the United Nations system governed by its 194 Member States through the meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) held annually in Geneva. The WHA is supported by the Executive Board which comprise 34 individuals qualified in the field of health, designated by Member States to serve on the Executive Board for three-year terms. The board advises the WHA and facilitates its work through its two annual meetings.
In recent years WHO has contributed to;

  • a reduction in under-five deaths by 44 % since 2000;
  • a fall of 41 % in malaria incidence rate  since 2000;
  • implementation of  rapid diagnostic tests for tuberculosis in 77 countries ensuring screening for tuberculosis among 5.5 million HIV infected.

Denmark’s cooperation with the World Health Organization
Denmark’s cooperation with WHO in the area of development is based on the Danish Organisation Strategy for WHO 2014-2019. Denmark considers WHO to be the central organization in the development of global health norms and standards and in strengthening health systems in developing countries. Within the priority areas defined in WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work, Denmark’s four main priorities for the cooperation are; continued institutional reform process, strengthening of health systems and integration of gender equity, and human rights.

Updated April 2020

Read the Danish Organisation Strategy for WHO, 2020-2023.

More information

World Health Organization

About WHO

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ethiopia)
Since May 2017   
Executive Board 

34 members

Denmark’s core contribution in 2020
DKK 35 million.