All countries which are Members of the United Nations may become members of WHO by accepting its Constitution. Other countries may be admitted as members when their application has been approved by a simple majority vote of the World Health Assembly. Territories which are not responsible for the conduct of their international relations may be admitted as Associate Members upon application made on their behalf by the Member or other authority responsible for their international relations. Members of WHO are grouped according to regional distribution (194 Member States).

Cooperation with countries

The World Health Organization (WHO) works with all Member States to support their national health development process, whether or not WHO has a physical presence.

In countries, WHO promotes the achievement of the highest sustainable level of health of all people.

WHO cooperates with governments and other partners in pursuing countries’ national health strategies and plans as well as collective commitments by the WHO Governing Bodies.

Where WHO works

WHO headquarters is located in Geneva, Switzerland. There are 6 WHO regions, each with a regional office. In addition, WHO has 149 field offices in countries, territories or areas. Countries without a WHO office are covered by nearby field offices or by the appropriate regional office.

How WHO works in countries

WHO supports countries to improve their health outcomes. The Organization achieves this by establishing appropriately resourced offices in countries which require a physical presence. In locations where this is not needed, support is provided by headquarters and regional and subregional offices.

At the country level, WHO’s relevance lies in supporting Member States as they coordinate the efforts of multiple sectors of the government and partners – including bi- and multilaterals, funds and foundations, civil society organizations and private sector – to attain their health objectives and support their national health policies and strategies.

What WHO does in countries

WHO has dedicated staff working in 149 field offices, as well as support from 6 regional offices. They advise ministries of health on technical issues and provide assistance in scaling up essential prevention, treatment and care services throughout the health sector. With other players including United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organizations and affected communities, staff help plan, implement and monitor programmes. Country teams also support advocacy and resource mobilization efforts.