Exploring the Work of the World Health Organization

Exploring the Work of the World Health Organization
Betty Ford: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Three to four class periods


Betty and Gerald Ford were married in 1948, the same year in which the World Health Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, was founded.  The mission of the World Health Organization is as simple as it is enormous: “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible levels of health.”  Health is defined in WHO's Constitution as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.  WHO has its work cut out for it!


The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the World Health Organization and its work, and to give them an opportunity to research one area of the agency’s health activities from a global perspective, to be used as news pieces in a simulated television broadcast.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; paper and pens or pencils, or a word processor; digital video camera, tape editing or movie-making software.


1.  Introduce the lesson by asking students if anyone they know has a chronic disease, or if they are aware of health conditions in the local community, or in any other nation.  Discuss the World Health Organization and its mission as a part of the United Nations.  Give them an opportunity to explore the WHO website, below, to get the general idea of the organization and its work.
2.  Then, tell the students that they will be writing news accounts of the work of the WHO for a to be broadcast on a WHO 24-hour news channel. 
3.  Give students time to research and write their news stories.  The PowerPoint presentation, “Writing New Stories for Radio and Television” (below) should help students with their writing.
4.  When the stories are written, set up the classroom as a broadcast studio.  Appoint some students as producers of the program (they get the room set up, time the reports, obtain any props necessary, etc.)  Other students should be recruiting to do the videotaping.
5.  Organize the students into panel reporting groups of three or four, on the basis of some commonality among their stories.  Videotape their reports.  Have students edit the tape, inserting a title and credits, or create a movie on the computer, also being sure to add a title and credits.
6.  Show the video or movie in class.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson can be extended by invited local experts on health issues to speak to students, or to include interviews with medical professionals in the broadcast.  If there happens to be a doctor or nurse in the community who has worked with Doctors Without Borders or has gone on sponsored missions to foreign countries to provide medical services, interviews with this person or these people would also contribute much to the final product.

Sources & Resources:

World Health Organization 
Health Topics 

Newswriting Basics (PowerPoint) 

This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.