Frequently asked questions

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What is the WHO definition of health?

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The bibliographic citation for this definition is: Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June - 22 July 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948. The definition has not been amended since 1948.

Publications: where can I find information on WHO publications?

The navigation bar at the top of the WHO web site has a “Publications” link that leads to information about WHO publications. This includes access to the online book shop, news, subscription information, and information about major publications and journals.

Can I link to the WHO web site from my web site? How do I request a link from the WHO web site to my site?

Potentially any external web site may add a hyperlink to the WHO web site without requesting permission. However this use must not infringe WHO's intellectual property rights, in particular relating to its name, emblem, copyright or authors' rights. WHO does not normally provide links to external web sites unless there is a clear association with WHO's activities. For more details, please read the Permissions and licensing pages.

Where can I find job opportunities at WHO?

The WHO employment site compiles a list of current vacancies and types of recruitment contracts. Enter your personal profile in the online e-recruitment system to apply for a listed position.

I am looking for information about internships. Where do I look?

Information on internships is available on the Internship opportunities page.

Does WHO offer scholarships or grants to carry out research?

WHO does not have a scholarship or grant programme as such, however certain special WHO programmes and departments do fund research. Visit the grant opportunities page in the TDR (Tropical Disease Research) web site or the capacity strengthening page in the RHR (Reproductive Health and Research) web site. Also, you may wish to consult the web site of the WHO Regional Office where your country is a Member State. The regional offices have some fellowship and scholarship programmes which are carried out in cooperation with the ministries of health in countries.

I am doing research. Where should I start looking for information?

For research on a particular health topic, begin by looking at the health topics list. Each health topic page provides lists of related sites, links and documents. If you are looking for information on a specific country or a WHO region, visit the corresponding WHO regional office web site. Specific country information can also be accessed via the Countries link on the left-hand navigation bar. The research tools page lists resources that can be used in research. These include statistical databases and the library database.

Why are countries referred to the way they are?

The official names of WHO Member States and their relative position in the alphabetical lists are based on information received from the Member States themselves and the United Nations.

Why do some maps have dotted borders?

The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on maps do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of WHO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Dotted lines on maps represent approximate border lines for which there may not yet be full agreement.

I am travelling abroad soon. Where can I find information and/or advice on health risks?

You can find vaccination requirements, travel risks and precautions for your country of destination on the International travel and health web site.

Have I received a scam e-mail?

Various scam emails purporting or implying to be from or associated with the World Health Organization (WHO), have been circulating on the Internet. Some of these emails request detailed information and/or money from individuals, businesses or non-profit organizations with the promise that they will receive funds or other benefits in return. Other emails ask for registration fees for conferences allegedly sponsored by WHO and for hotel reservations, again with the promise of certain benefits. These emails sometimes carry the WHO logo, and emanate from or refer to an email address which is made to look like a WHO or United Nations address.

These emails do not emanate from WHO, and are not in any way associated with WHO projects or events. WHO wishes to warn the public of these misleading practices, and suggests that recipients of invitations such as those described above (whether sent by email or communicated in any other way) verify their authenticity before sending any response. In particular, WHO suggests that recipients do not send money or personal information in response to invitations from anyone who claims to be awarding funds, grants, scholarships, certificates, lottery winnings, or prizes, and/or who requests payment for registration fees and hotel rooms reservations, in the name of WHO. It is not WHO policy to charge for attendance at meetings.

If you have any doubts about the authenticity of an email, letter or phone call purportedly from, for or on behalf of WHO, please email us at WHO is trying to put a halt to these misleading practices, and we would therefore greatly appreciate your help in bringing suspect communications to our attention.