Canada and the World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the largest United Nations (UN) specialized agencies. Its overall goal is to achieve the highest attainable level of health for all. WHO provides leadership on global health matters, including the global health research agenda, sets global health norms and standards, provides technical support to countries, and monitors health trends.
With its near universal membership and strong convening power, WHO is the primary multilateral organization able to mobilize and coordinate international action on global health issues, particularly in contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Thirteenth General Programme of Work defines WHO’s strategy for 2019 to 2025. It focuses on people’s health at the country level and outline 3 overall measurable targets to be met by 2025:
- One billion more people are benefiting from universal health coverage
- One billion more people are better protected from health emergencies
- One billion more people are enjoying better health and well-being
Canada's support for the World Health Organization
Canada has been a steadfast supporter of WHO since its creation in 1948 and is among its top contributors.
Canada was the third Member State to ratify the WHO Constitution on August 29, 1946. Dr. George Brock Chisholm – a Canadian – was appointed Executive Secretary of the Interim Commission that established the WHO. He helped draft the WHO Constitution and became the first WHO Director General.
Canada engages with the WHO to advance domestic and global health priorities, to share Canadian expertise on health issues, and to ensure that the policy and programme directions of the organization contribute to promoting and protecting the health of Canadians and people around the world.
Canada works closely with WHO to respond to health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to reduce global diseases such as polio, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, to improve the health and rights of women and children, including nutrition, and to advance global health security.
Canada also works with WHO to support national health programs in low- and middle-income countries and with WHO's regional offices such as the Pan American Health Organization.
The Minister of Health leads the Canadian delegation to the annual World Health Assembly, WHO’s key decision-making body. Canada is a member of the WHO Executive Board which advises the Health Assembly and implements its decisions and policies. As a member of the Executive Board from 2022 to 2025, Canada will continue to promote a more efficient, effective, accountable, and relevant WHO.
More information about Canada’s support of WHO.
With the support of Canada and other donors, WHO:
- Galvanized the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a platform aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 medical countermeasures. To this day, Canada continues to be among its top supporters.
- Helped countries address context-specific needs and gaps to support the continuation of essential health services and strengthen gender-responsive, equity-oriented and human rights-based primary health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Advanced the Human Reproduction Programme’s research to identify and analyze innovations and adjustments made by Argentina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine to ensure continued sexual and reproductive health services, medicines and information over the COVID-19 pandemic as well as best practices for sustaining access to these services post-pandemic.
- Provided emergency health relief in a number of emergencies, including in Bangladesh (Rohingya Crisis), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Ebola response and preparedness), Mozambique (flooding), Nigeria (complex emergency), Ukraine and neighbouring countries as well as for the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Contributed to the enhancement of biosafety and biosecurity for Ebola samples in Sierra Leone, a 24/7 global event-based surveillance system and a regularized WHO’s Health Security Interface (HSI) Secretariat as well as increased capacity and capabilities in this area.
- Reduced the number of polio cases by more than 99% since 1988 when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched, having eradicated 3 of the 3 strains of wild poliovirus. Some 20 million people are walking who would otherwise have been paralyzed.
- Saved an estimated 66 million lives through tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2020 through Stop TB Partnership globally.
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