When it came into being in 1948, the World Health Organization took over the public health functions of the Health Organization of the League of Nations and also the administration of two awards: the Darling Foundation Prize and the Léon Bernard Foundation Prize.

Since then other foundations have been established within the framework of WHO and/or are administered by the Organization.

These foundations have generally been founded by, or set up in memory of, eminent health personalities. The prizes are awarded, in general, to individuals or institutions for outstanding achievements in general health development; the fellowships are intended to further research in specific areas of medicine. Over the years the awards have been presented to well known scientists, researchers or simply dedicated people who have greatly contributed with their work to the advancement of public health, and to institutions caring for the health of local communities.

Nomination and application

The Director-General is currently the administrator of several foundation prizes and fellowships, and regularly invites nominations of candidates, in accordance with the provisions laid down in the relevant statutes.

Depending on the regulations governing each prize or fellowship, nominations may be submitted to either the Director-General or the Regional Directors of WHO, through national health administrations, former prize recipients, WHO regional committees, research institutions or international organizations and associations.

Nominations are considered by the Foundation Committees or Selection Panels which decide on the recommendation to be made to the Executive Board, or the Regional Committee concerned, which designate the recipients of the awards.

Guidelines should be observed, where they are provided, and the application forms should be completed as fully as possible. Special care should be taken in preparing the documentation to be submitted in support of a candidature. Scant or incomplete documentary evidence may seriously hinder the candidate's chances of success.

Dissolved awards