World Health Organization’s Organizational Structure

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the WHO operates in over 150 countries and territories, coordinating global efforts to address health emergencies, set health standards, and promote health equity. 

The WHO plays a truly multifaceted role in global health and is responsible for responding to major health crises such as pandemics and outbreaks by providing guidance, coordinating responses, and facilitating the distribution of vaccines and medical supplies. 

Additionally, the WHO sets international health standards, conducts research, and provides technical assistance to countries, focusing on a wide range of health issues, including communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, health systems strengthening, and health emergencies.

WHO Headquarters Leadership Team

The WHO is led by a leadership team that includes the Executive Director, Chief Scientist, and several Assistant Director-Generals who are responsible for overseeing various functional areas of the WHO’s global operations.

These include health emergencies, communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, health systems, and policy development. These individuals oversee and guide the WHO’s diverse programs, initiatives, and policy formulation aimed at addressing global health challenges.

World Health Organization's Organizational Structure Chart

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not have a traditional “board of directors” like many corporations. Instead, it has a governing body known as the Executive Board which serves as its supreme decision-making body. 

The Executive Board is composed of representatives from all member states of the WHO and meets annually in Geneva, Switzerland. In total, it’s composed of 34 persons who are technically qualified in the field of health, each designated by a Member State that has been elected to serve by the World Health Assembly. 

World Health Organization's Board of Directors Chart

WHO’s Organizational Structure

The WHO operates primarily with a hierarchical structure that’s designed to provide a clear chain of command, streamline decision-making processes, and ensure effective coordination of activities across various departments and regions.

At the top of the hierarchy is the Executive Director, who serves as the chief executive officer of the WHO, providing overall leadership and direction. Reporting to the Director-General are the Deputy Directors-General and Assistant Directors-General, who oversee specific areas of focus, such as health emergencies, communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, health systems, and policy development.

Under this top leadership tier, the organizational structure includes various departments, divisions, and regional offices. Each department focuses on specific health-related areas, such as immunization, mental health, maternal and child health, and disease control. Regional offices are responsible for addressing health needs and challenges in their respective regions, ensuring the WHO’s global impact.

This hierarchical structure allows for a clear delineation of responsibilities, efficient communication channels, and the ability to address diverse health issues across different regions. However, the WHO also emphasizes collaboration and partnerships both within the organization and with external stakeholders to address complex global health challenges effectively.

Want to learn more about organizational structures and the important role that they play in the business world and beyond? Here are some helpful blog resources that you can get started with:

Create this chart in Organimi! 

You can download the CSV file of World Health Organization’s org structure, import it into Organimi and start editing this chart right away! Here’s how:

  1.  From your dashboard, select Data Import.
  2.  Click the CSV tile.
  3.  Click +Upload Your File.   
  4. Select an Excel file from your device.
  5.  In the Organization field, click the down arrow to select an organization.
  6. Click Create a New Chart
  7. Click Next and select: Organization Chart
  8. Select the auto-build tool to automatically build your chart.
  9. Voila!

Download CSV file:
World Health Organization (4.3 KB)

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