WHO in South-East Asia

Governing bodies and policies

The World Health Assembly

The World Health Assembly's mandate is to approve the biennial programme budget, and decide on major policy matters. The Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of WHO. The World Health Assembly is held usually in Geneva, in May each year, and is attended by delegations from all Member States.

Executive Board

The Executive Board is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a Member State elected to do so by the World Health Assembly. Member States are elected for three-year terms, and the individuals they designate act as government representatives and not in their individual capacity. The Board meets at least twice a year; the main meeting is normally in January, with a second shorter meeting in May, immediately after the Health Assembly. The main functions of the Board are:

  • to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly
  • to advise the World Health Assembly
  • to facilitate the work of the Health Assembly generally.

The Secretariat of WHO is staffed by some 8000 health and other experts and support staff on fixed-term appointments, working at headquarters, in the six regional offices, and in countries.

The Organization is headed by the Director-General, who is appointed by the Health Assembly on the nomination of the Executive Board.

Regional Committee

The WHO South-East Regional Committee is composed of representatives of the Member States and Associate Members in the Region. Territories or groups of territories within the Region, which are not responsible for the conduct of their international relations and which are not Associate Members, have the right to be represented and to participate in the sessions of the Regional Committee.

The nature and extent of the rights and obligations of these territories or groups of territories in regional committees is determined by the Health Assembly in consultation with the Member or other authority having responsibility for the international relations of these territories and with the Member States in the Region. Subject to the general authority of the Director-General of the Organization, the Regional Office is the administrative organ of the Regional Committee. In addition, it carries out the decisions of the Health Assembly and of the Executive Board within the Region.