Years of WHO in South
....Pre WHO Years The emergence of the World
International Health Conference
The International Health
Conference, which opened in New York on 19 June 1946, was
inaugurated by Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar, President of ECOSOC. It had many
‘firsts’ to its credit. It was the first international conference with the
word ‘health’ in it, all previous ones being called ‘sanitary’ conferences.
It was also the first conference to be called by the World Health
The Constitution of world
Health Organization was approved and signed by the 61 nations represented.
An Interim Commission was formed to prepare for the first World
Health Assembly and to carry on the activities of the League of Nations
Health Organization and United Nations Relief and Rehabiliation
WHO takes over from OIHP
The International Health
Conference, held in june 1946, approved the termination of OIHP and for its
functions to be taken over by WHO. It was, however, only on 15 November 1950 that all signatories of the 1907 Arrangement of Rome had
notified their denunciations. With that final act, OIHP ceased to exist.
International Health Conference, New York, 16 June - 22 July 1946. Seated from left to right are : Mr Trygve Lie, U N
secretary-general, sir Ramaswami Mudaliar and Mr Henri Laugier, Secretary
of the Conference.
Transfer of functions
The other major
international health organization existing before the Second World War was
the League of Nations Health Organization. It was formed by the Assembly of
the League of Nations in November-December 1920., to serve as the foundation of the
new health organization together with OIHP. But OIHP refused to be absorbed
into the League of Nations Health Organization, however, successfully
carried out its activities covering a wide area, including epidemiological
services, technical studies and advice on subjects such as nutrition, rural
health and promotion of medical and public health education.
The International Health Conference also approved the trasfer of the
functions of the League of Nations Health Organization to the WHO Interim
Commission , and, later, to the World Health Organization.
Commission in session in Geneva, 1946
Dr A. Stampar of Yugoslavia, Chairman of the WHO
Interim Commission and also the President of the First World Health
WHO Interim Commission
The International Health
Conference formed the Interim Commission for the World Health Organization
on 19 July
1946, pending the coming into force of
the Constitution. The Commission was composed of representatives from 18
states, including Dr C. Mani from India, who later became the first Regional Director of WHO’s
South-East Asia Region. The Commission held its first meeting immediately
after its appointment by the Conference.
The functions of the
Interim Commission were: (a) to prepare for the permanent organization; (b)
to carry out the statutory functions of the previous health organizations,
e.g. epidemiological intelligence, and (c) to carry out emergency
international health work.
The Commission met under
the chairmanship of Dr F.G. Krotkov (USSR). Later, Dr A. Stampar (Yugoslavia) took his place. Dr Brock Chisholm (Canada) was elected the Executive Secretary of the Commission.
Thereafter, the Interim Commission met in Geneva at approximate intervals of
four months, holding five sessions in all, with an additional informal
preparatory meeting just before the first World Health Assembly in June
It had been expected that
the Interim Commission would complete its work in a matter of months, but
delays in the ratification of the WHO Constitution prolonged its existence
to nearly two years, from 22 July 1946 to 1 September 1948.
During this period, the
Commission took over the duties of the earlier health organizations and
became fully responsible for epidemiological services and for the
administration of the International Sanitary Conventions. Work on
biological standardization, international lists of diseases and causes of
death, narcotic drugs and preparation of an international pharmacopoeia was
resumed. It also took over UNRRA’s health work in 15 countries involving
relief and rehabilitation in the field as well as prevention of epidemics,
malaria, tuberculosis, venereal diseases control and nutrition.
To guide its work, the Commission established nine
expert committees. A number of specialists from the South-East Asia Region
were members of some of these committees.
The objective of the World Health Organization shall
be "the attainment by all peoples of highest possible level of
(Article 1 of the constitution of WHO)
The ‘Magna Carta’ of
The Constitution of the
World Health Organization has been called the ‘Magna Carta’ of health. In
its final form, it constitutes one of the most powerful instruments for
international collaboration to enable man to improve his condition of life.
Concept of ‘Health’ in the Bill of Human Rights
The United Nations
Commission on Human Rights, which met in Geneva in
December 1947, incorporated in the Charter of Human Rights the following
distinction as to economic and social conditions, has the right to the
preservation of his health through the highest standards of food, clothing,
housing and medical care which the resources of the State and community can
provide. The responsibility of the State and community for the health and
safety of its people can be fulfilled only by provision of adequate health
and social measures."