Lesson Plan: Role of the World Health Organization

Role of the World Health Organization

This lesson plan is from the C-Span Classroom

Christian McMillen talked about the origin of the World Health Organization and its role throughout history.

  • SET-UP:

    This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.

    You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.

    You can also save and share the following documents for students to use with this lesson.

    Handout; World Health Organization Vocabulary Chart (Google Doc)

    Handout with Questions: The Role of the World Health Organization (Google Doc)

    In Google, choose “File” then “Make a Copy” to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.

  • WARM-UP:

    Discuss the following questions with students:

    • What makes a disease a pandemic?
    • In what ways could a global organization that addresses pandemics be helpful?
    • What could be some potential shortcomings?



  • Center For Disease Control
  • Coronavirus
  • Covid-19
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Infodemic
  • Malaria
  • National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases
  • Pandemic
  • Polio
  • Tuberculosis
  • World Health Organization


The World Health Organization was started after World War II as an endeavor to coordinate efforts to combat infectious diseases as they spread around the world. Over the decades, other organizations have stepped into this role as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic but was also criticized for its response. President Trump withdrew support from WHO, but c renewed support his first day in office. In this lesson, students investigate the role of the organization and decide if they think the United States should support WHO.


    Have students view the following video clips and respond to the accompanying questions on the handout. They can watch each video independently or view a video with a partner.

    Video Clip 2: WHO Director General declares COVID-19 a Pandemic (2:55)

    Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, ‘sounds the alarm bell’ that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

    • Why did WHO declare COVID-19 a pandemic?
    • What difference do you think it makes if the WHO labels a disease as a ‘pandemic’?
  • Video Clip 3: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Federal Bureaucracy (5:52)

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 talked about the role of the NIAID and how the institute works with other parts of the US government and organizations like the World Health Organization.

    • How does the United States Government approach preparation for infectious diseases?
    • What specific diseases has this part of the government dealt with in the past?
    • How do the different health organizations work together?
  • Video Clip 4: China and the World Health Organization (4:01)

    After President Trump announced that the United States would cut funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), Brett Schaefer of the Heritage Foundation talked about the decision and China’s role in the organization. He also discussed the structure of the organization and the events that led to the current coronavirus outbreak.

    • How does the World Health Organization work?
    • According to Brett Schaeffer of the Heritage Foundation, how was this a problem with China?
  • Video Clip 5: Misinformation during Public Health Emergencies (2:47)

    Reid Wilson, author of “Epidemic: Ebola and the Global Scramble to Prevent the Next Killer Outbreak” talked about how misinformation can impact the spread of pandemics. He talked about examples of misinformation during the Ebola outbreak in Africa and COVID-19 in the United States.

    • What are infomedics during pandemics?
    • What are some examples of infodemics?
    • According to Reid Wilson, how do we combat the dangers of misinformation during pandemics?

    After discussing the information presented in the videos, students will prepare an argument for increasing or decreasing the U.S. government’s current level of support using evidence from the videos and additional outside resources.

    Students will respond to the following prompt:

    President Trump cut funding to the WHO and President Biden renewed our membership. Should the United States increase or decrease our support of the World Health Organization? What makes you say that?

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