Skip to main content

Health – WHO and UNAIDS


Established by the Member States of the UN in 1948, the WHO is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the UN system, and its mandate is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.

WHO carries out its work by:

  • Providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
  • Shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
  • Setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
  • Articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
  • Providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity; and
  • Monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.

More than 7000 people from more than 150 countries work for WHO in 150 offices in countries, territories and areas, six regional offices, at the Global Service Centre in Malaysia and at the headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

In addition to medical doctors, public health specialists, scientists and epidemiologists, WHO staff include people trained to manage administrative, financial, and information systems, as well as experts in the fields of health statistics, economics and emergency relief.

Ireland contributes €1.2 million in core funding to WHO annually and actively participates in the World Health Assembly, its governing body, which meets in Geneva in May each year.


Since 1996, UNAIDS has carried the main responsibility within the UN system for helping countries to strengthen their long-term capacity to cope with the challenges presented by the AIDS epidemic. The mission of UNAIDS is to lead, strengthen and support an expanded response to HIV and AIDS that includes preventing transmission of HIV, providing care and support to those already living with the virus, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV and alleviating the impact of the epidemic.

UNAIDS has five goals:

  • Leadership and advocacy for effective action on the epidemic;
  • Strategic information and technical support to guide efforts against AIDS worldwide;
  • Tracking, monitoring and evaluation of the epidemic and of responses to it;
  • Civil society engagement and the development of strategic partnerships; and
  • Mobilization of resources to support an effective response.

Based in Geneva, UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organisations – UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank – and works closely with global and national partners to maximize results for the AIDS response.

Ireland provides €3 million in core funding to UNAIDS each year, as well as occasional earmarked allocations for specific projects such as the Red Ribbon Award, an international award recognising community-based organisations that have shown outstanding leadership and action against AIDS.