The concept of an international health organization was first suggested in 1945 by the Chinese United Nations delegate Dr. Szeming Sze. Although the initial resolution failed, at an international conference the following year, all 51 member countries of the U.N., as well as 10 other countries, signed the World Health Organization Constitution. On April 7, 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) was officially created as a specialized agency of the United Nations.

The WHO led efforts to eradicate smallpox. Current priorities include communicable diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, Ebola, malaria and tuberculosis; the mitigation of the effects of non-communicable diseases such as sexual and reproductive health, development, and aging; nutrition, food security and healthy eating; occupational health; substance abuse; and driving the development of reporting, publications, and networking.