Constitution of the World Health Organization

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CONSTITUTION OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

1948

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Originally adopted by the International Health Conference held in New York in June-July 1946 and signed by the representatives of sixty-one nations, the following statement is found in the Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization, established in 1948. Especially significant elements are the controversial definition of health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity"and the recognition of health as a fundamental human right.

The States Parties to this Constitution declare, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, that the following principles are basic to the happiness, harmonious relations and security of all peoples:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

The health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest co-operation of individuals and States.

The achievement of any State in the promotion and protection of health is of value to all. Unequal development in different countries in the promotion of health and control of disease, especially communicable disease, is a common danger.

Healthy development of the child is of basic importance; the ability to live harmoniously in a changing total environment is essential to such development.

The extension to all peoples of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge is essential to the fullest attainment of health.

Informed opinion and active co-operation on the part of the public are of the utmost importance in the improvement of the health of the people.

Governments have a responsibility for the health of their peoples which can be fulfilled only by the provision of adequate health and social measures.

Accepting these principles, and for the purpose of cooperation among themselves and with others to promote and protect the health of all peoples, the Contracting parties agree to the present Constitution and hereby establish the World Health Organization as a specialized agency within the terms of Article 57 of the Charter of the United Nations.