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Does WHO Need a Makeover?

How is The World Health Organization going to rebrand itself with new, flashier GLobal Health initiatives?

Is the World Health Organization trying to stay relevant? Late last week, WHO launched their graphically flashier website in order to appeal to those who are not health care biostatisticians. The site has always been a bit daunting to navigate and the website is much cleaner and yes, easier to navigate the information.

But is it a coincidence that the site launched almost the same day that an article in Foreign Policy appeared by former WHO director Jack Chow. Chow suggests that WHO is not doing their job defending disease and the organization could live or die as a fallout of the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

The WHO -- for 62 years the world's go-to agency on all public health matters -- is today outmoded, underfunded, and overly politicized. In a world of rapid technological change, travel, and trade, the WHO moves with a bureaucracy's speed. Its advice to health officials is too often muddied by the need for consensus. Regional leadership posts are pursued as political prizes. Underfunded and over strapped, the organization has come under attack for being too easily swayed by big pharma. In a world where foundations, NGOs, and the private sector are transforming global health, the WHO has simply not adapted. This isn't just about the WHO losing its edge. Taken together, these myriad dysfunctions are rendering the WHO closer and closer to irrelevancy in the world of global health.


As the respected body in Global Health, WHO is sort of the U.N. for health. They should be able to leverage the trust and knowledge inherent in their brand but also take some lessons from those public and private sector groups who are passing them in efforts to stop disease. At the very least, WHO needs to start driving in the middle lane.

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