"The purpose of the Organisation is, in essence, the securing of the "highest attainable standard of health" to every human being "without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social position." As we all know, disease is one of the deadliest enemies of mankind. But, thanks to the progress achieved in the field of medical science during this century, man is now no longer a defenceless victim against all types of disease. Today we have a World Health Organisation to co-ordinate the knowledge accruing from medical science that has been inherited from individuals such as Louis Pasteur, Sir Alexander Fleming and Konrad Roentgen, who have devoted their lives to free mankind from the scourge of disease. The Organisation assists member countries in planning and organising their health programmes, and thus helps to bring the benefits of medical science to those who suffer from disease. This is not only of inestimable value to the individual countries to which the Organisation extends advisory, technical and material, assistance, but also to the entire world at large -- for in this age of swift travel facilities, it is evident that our world has contracted in its relative geographic position and, consequently, the outbreak of a contagious disease in one country is a danger to the rest of the world. Hence the necessity for every country to enforce international health regulations as prescribed by the World Health Organisation.
Constitution of WHO: principles
WHO remains firmly committed to the principles set out in the preamble to the Constitution
Constitution of the World Health Organization: Principles
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.
The health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent on the fullest co-operation of individuals and States.
The achievement of any State in the promotion and protection of health is of value to all.
Unequal development in different countries in the promotion of health and control of diseases, especially communicable disease, is a common danger.
Healthy development of the child is of basic importance; the ability to live harmoniously in a changing total environment is essential to such development.
The extension to all peoples of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge is essential to the fullest attainment of health.
Informed opinion and active co-operation on the part of the public are of the utmost importance in the improvement of the health of the people.
Governments have a responsibility for the health of their peoples which can be fulfilled only by the provision of adequate health and social measures.
~Constitution of the World Health Organization
The Constitution was adopted by the International Health Conference held in New York from 19 June to 22 July 1946, signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States and entered into force on 7 April 1948.
Later amendments are incorporated into this text.
Basic founding documents