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World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) is Finland’s most important international partner in the development and evaluation of health policy in Finland and globally. Finland is an active participant in global health policy and the international development of the various areas of health policy. Finland’s participation and policy opinions in WHO are the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, together with other ministries.

WHO’s role in international health policy is defined by the Constitution of the World Health Organization (1946), which specifies WHO’s objective as “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”. WHO has a leading role in the normative work, development and coordination of global health policy. WHO may propose conventions, agreements and regulations, and make recommendations with respect to health matters. WHO monitors the global health situation, produces global health statistics regularly and keeps the disease classification system up-to-date. It also steers the direction of international research in the field of health, and supports the practical application of research results. Upon request, WHO can provide its member states with expert support on health policy development and health emergencies, for example.
WHO has 194 member states across six regions. In Europe, WHO has 53 member states. The World Health Assembly is the highest governing body of WHO. It meets annually and decides on the direction of global health policy. The Executive Board, with 34 members, prepares the World Health Assembly and implements its decisions. Finland was a member of the Executive Board from 2018 to 2021 and Vice-Chair from 2018 to 2020. 

Finland has implemented two international agreements that are binding on all WHO member states: the International Health Regulation (IHR, 2005), which defines the role of WHO and its member states in international health emergencies, and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). In spring 2022, WHO initiated negotiations on an international accord on pandemic preparedness and response.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority take part in the work of WHO at the expert level. Finnish experts and contact persons participate in WHO’s working groups and networks. There are also WHO collaborating centres in Finland.

Finland promotes health as a human right, gender equality and the “economy of well-being” and “health in all policies” approaches in all global health policy efforts. Finland’s priorities in cooperation with WHO are as follows:

  • health systems
  • health security
  • prevention of non-communicable diseases.
  • promotion of health and wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities
  • sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • monitoring and measurement methods
  • digital health and innovation
     

Further information

Kaisa Lähdepuro, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, International Affairs Unit (KVY) 0295163419