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FORMER DIRECTORS-GENERAL OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

Short Biographies

Dr Brock ChisholmDr Brock Chisholm of Canada (1896-1971), the first Director-General of WHO, was born in Oakville, Ontario, on 18 May 1896. He volunteered for military service at age 18 to fight in the First World War and was decorated with the Military Cross with Bar. He completed his studies after the war, receiving his degree of doctor of medicine from the University of Toronto in 1924. After his post graduate work in several hospitals in the UK, he returned to Canada, where he engaged in general practice in his native city and, after further training, practised psychology in Toronto until 1940. During World War II, Dr Chisholm held various military posts ending as Director of Medical Services, and Chief of Personnel Selection, Department of National Defence, Ottawa, with the rank of Major General. He was appointed Deputy Minister of Health in 1944. In July 1946, he was elected Executive Secretary of the WHO Interim Commission. Dr Chisholm became WHO's first Director-General on 21 July 1948 and, refusing re-election, he left at the end of his mandate in 1953 to settle in British Colombia. By the time he left the Organization, WHO had 83 Member States. Dr Chisholm was the author of numerous technical articles and publications, among them "Prescription for Survival" (1957) and "Can People Learn to Learn" (1958). He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1967. He was Honorary President of the World Federalists of Canada, and President of the World Federation of Mental Health (1957-1958). He was an Honorary Fellow of a number of prestigious medical associations and the recipient of numerous degrees. Dr Chisholm died in a plane crash on 4 February 1971.

Dr Marcolino Gomes CandauDr Marcolino Gomes Candau of Brazil (1911-1983) was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1911 and received his medical degree at the school of medicine, State of Rio de Janeiro. He then received special training in public health at the University of Brazil and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. Between 1934 and 1950, Dr Candau held a series of increasingly important positions in the public health service of his country. From 1934 to 1943, he was in charge of various health services in the State of Rio de Janeiro, ultimately becoming Assistant Director of that State's Department of Health. Between 1943 and 1950, Dr Candau was Director of Division, Assistant Superintendent, and later Superintendent of the Serviço Especial de Saude Publica together with the Institute of Inter-American Affairs. He also held teaching positions in Brazil. In 1938 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Hygiene at the School of Medicine, State of Rio de Janeiro. Dr Candau joined the staff of the World Heath Organization in Geneva in 1950 as Director of the Division of Organization of Health Services. Within a year, he was appointed Assistant Director-General in charge of Advisory Services. In 1952, he moved to Washington as Assistant Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau -- the WHO Regional Office for the Americas. In 1953, while occupying that position, he was elected, at the age of 42, WHO's second Director-General. In 1958, 1963 and 1968, Dr Candau was re-elected for his successive terms in that office, which he held until 1973. As Director-General, Dr Candau witnessed the growth of the Organization from 81 Members in 1953 to 138 in 1973. At the end of his last term, in recognition of the outstanding services rendered to international public health, the 26th World Health Assembly formally declared him Director-General Emeritus of the World Health Organization. He was an Honorary Fellow and Member of a number of public health societies and medical associations in both developed and developing countries. Dr Candau died in Geneva on 24 January 1983.

Dr Halfdan T. MahlerDr Halfdan T. Mahler of Denmark was born on 21 April 1923 at Vivild, Denmark. He obtained his medical degree at the University of Copenhagen in 1948, and holds a post-graduate degree in public health. Shortly after graduation and specialised training in tuberculosis, Dr Mahler entered international public health. From 1950 to 1951, he acted as planning officer for a mass anti-tuberculosis campaign in Ecuador. In 1951, he joined WHO and spent almost ten years in India as Senior WHO Officer attached to the National Tuberculosis Programme. From 1962, he was Chief of the Tuberculosis Unit at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva until 1969, when he was appointed Director, Project Systems Analysis. In 1970, he was made Assistant Director-General of WHO while retaining the direction of Project Systems Analysis. In 1973, while occupying that position, Dr Mahler was elected WHO's third Director-General. He was re-elected for two successive five-year terms in 1978 and 1983 respectively. Under Dr Mahler, WHO and UNICEF developed and adopted at the international conference in Alma-Ata (USSR) in 1978 the concept of Primary Health Care (PHC) -- an approach aimed at making essential health care universally accessible to individuals, families and communities. In 1979, the Thirty-second World Health Assembly launched the Global Strategy for Health for All by the Year 2000, inviting the Member States to act individually in formulating national policies, strategies and plans of action for attaining this goal, and collectively in formulating regional and global strategies, using as a basis the guiding principles issued by WHO's Executive Board. It was during his term of office as Director-General that the Thirty-third World Health Assembly in May 1980 declared the global eradication of smallpox – a major achievement in the work of WHO. During Dr Mahler's tenure of office, WHO grew from 138 Members in 1973 to 166 in 1988. In recognition of his outstanding services to health and development, the Forty-first World Health Assembly formally declared Dr Halfdan T. Mahler Director-General Emeritus of the World Health Organization. Dr Mahler is an Honorary Fellow and Member of a number of public health societies and associations in both developed and developing countries. He is also the author of publications relating to the epidemiology and control of tuberculosis, as well as the application of system analysis to health care problems. Dr Mahler continues to participate in international public health work and currently resides in Switzerland.

Dr Hiroshi NakajimaDr Hiroshi Nakajima (Japan),  was born at Chiba City, Japan, on 16 May 1928. He obtained his medical degree at the Tokyo Medical College in 1955 and he holds a post-graduate degree in medical science. In 1984, he was awarded the Kojima Prize -- the highest award given in Japan for achievements in public health. Shortly after graduation, Dr Nakajima began his training in neuropsychiatry in the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Tokyo Medical College, and later in the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Paris University, and in the Institute of Pharmacology of the same university. From 1958 to 1967 he worked as a scientist at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, carrying out research in basic and clinical neuropsycho-pharmacology and finally, as principal scientist, supervising research activities of the neuropsycho-pharmacological unit of the Institute. In 1967, he returned to Japan as Director, Research and Administration, Nippon Roche Research Centre in Tokyo. Dr Nakajima joined WHO in 1974 in the position of Scientist, Drug Evaluation and Monitoring. In 1976, he became Chief of the WHO Drug Policies and Management Unit. It was in this position that he played a key role in developing the concept of essential drugs, as Secretary of the first Expert Committee on the subject. In 1978, the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific nominated and elected Dr Nakajima as Regional Director, an office he held for two consecutive terms until 1988, when he was elected Director-General of WHO. In 1993, Dr Nakajima was re-elected to a second term of office as Director-General. Dr Nakajima's tenure of office has coincided with dramatic and profound socio-economic changes in the world throughout the 1990s. As a result, WHO has had to face multiple new challenges, as well as health-related problems caused by degradation of the environment, the emergence of new diseases, such as Ebola, and resurgence of old foes, such as tuberculosis. Considerable progress has been made on the way towards eradication of polio and elimination of guinea worm disease, leprosy and Chagas disease. As Director-General, Dr Nakajima has seen the growth of the Organization from 166 Members in 1988 to 191 in 1997. In 1997, Dr Nakajima announced that he was not seeking another re-election and that his term of office would end in July 1998. In recognition of his loyalty and the outstanding services rendered to international public health, the 51st World Health Assembly, meeting in May 1998, awarded Dr Hiroshi Nakajima the title of Director-General Emeritus. Dr Hiroshi Nakajima is an Honorary Fellow and Member of a number of academies, public health associations and medical societies. He is the author of more than 60 scientific articles and reviews in the field of medical and pharmaceutical sciences.

 


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