The Milbank Quarterly  |  April 25, 2023

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The United Nations (UN) created the World Health Organization (WHO) as its first specialized agency out of the ruins and atrocities of World War II. For decades after its creation, the WHO had an unrivaled place leading world health at the very center of the global health architecture. In those early years, the WHO was one of very few institutions in the health space, later joined by the World Bank. By 1980, the WHO achieved the unimaginable—the eradication of the ancient scourge of smallpox. But the WHO’s power and influence has steadily waned, with a plethora of global institutions and actors entering the space that the WHO alone had once occupied.

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