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The WHO Framework of Essential Elements for Comprehensive National Legislation on the Health of the Public

Geneva, Switzerland


The Millennium Declaration in 2000 represents an historic agreement between nations to overcome major obstacles to human development in the 21st century. The Declaration, endorsed by 189 countries, was translated into a roadmap setting out goals to be reached by 2015. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), based on agreements made at United Nations conferences in the 1990s, were established as the drivers for change aiming to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and ensure environmental stability. WHO recognizes that national or regional public health law can be vital in the advancement of health-related MDGs and other public health initiatives. It seeks to stimulate improvements in the public’s health through the development of a comprehensive legislative approach that addresses essential elements of public health action. Together with the Center for Law and the Public's Health, a WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center in Public Health Law and Human Rights, WHO has developed an organizational legal blueprint that reflects core principles of human rights, ethics, science, and practice, and enables public health improvements. The objective is to create a framework of public health legal issues that stimulates policy-making and implementation that may lead to a country’s adoption of statutory or regulatory provisions that help achieve MDGs by (1) demonstrating to other countries, donors, and international organizations the significant interest in modernizing its public health system; (2) providing public health officials and their partners with enhanced legal and policy tools; and (3) systematically guiding a country in its efforts to examine the use of its health-related resources as part of larger, ongoing reprioritization processes that incorporate principles of public health practice, science, human rights, and ethics.