Core functions


The World Health Organization (WHO) is determined to play a transformational role in Africa to change the continent’s future by working towards strengthened global health and economic security and achieving the goals of a new era of sustainable development.


WHO is the United Nations’ specialized agency for health. Its work is founded on the concept of health as a fundamental human right, and the notion that everyone is entitled to the highest possible level of health. Its primary role is to direct and coordinate international health through six core functions:

  • Providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
  • Shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
  • Setting norms and standards, and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
  • Articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
  • Providing technical support, catalysing change and building sustainable institutional capacity; and
  • Monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.

WHO is firmly committed to the principles set out in the preamble to the Constitution

icon Constitution of the World Health Organization (327.11 kB)