WHO's activities at country level have earned the organisation both criticism and praise.The organisation's technical publications are esteemed as authoritative guidelines for disease control. Successful disease-control programmes and contributions to health research have heightened WHO's reputation. The organisation has also provided the focus for evolution of important ideas, such as primary health care and the relevance of equity and other ethical issues. But WHO has been criticised for not adapting rapidly and logically to changes in the health field. With increasing national capacity in the more advanced developing countries, and with the involvement of new participants in the health sphere, the organisation needs to reassess its role at country level. My recommendation is that WHO improves its analytical capacity so that its programmes take into consideration the health needs of the country, its national capacity, and the contributions from other external agencies.