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Coming to Terms with World Health

The League of Nations Health Organisation 1921-1946

Iris Borowy

The League of Nations Health Organisation was the first international health organisation with a broad mandate and global responsibilities. It acted as a technical agency of the League of Nations, an institution designed to safeguard a new world order during the tense interwar period. The work of the Health Organisation had distinct political implications, although ostensibly it was concerned «merely» with health. Until 1946, it addressed a broad spectrum of issues, including public health data, various diseases, biological standardization and the reform of national health systems. The economic depression spurred its focus on social medicine, where it sought to identify minimum standards for living conditions, notably nutrition and housing, defined as essential for healthy lives. Attracting a group of innovative thinkers, the organization laid the groundwork for all following international health work, effective until today.


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Archival Material: Gale Group microfilm, League of Nations Documents and Serial Publications, III Health. League of Nations Archive (LONA), Geneva Registry Files: 1919-27: Section 12B 1928-32: Section 8A, 8D, 11 A-D 1932-46: Sections 8A, 8D, 11 A-D. Bundesarchiv, Berlin Record Groups: R 1501, R 1505. Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes, Berlin Record Groups: R 64987, R 65497, R 65498, R 96816, R 96835, R 65750, R 65501, R 65503, R 65504, R 65753, R 65751. Archiv des Bernhard Nocht Institutes, Hamburg Record Group: 2-1 Korrespondenz Nocht. Archive of the International Statistical Institute, The Hague Record Group: C.M. 04.02. WHO Archive, Geneva Record Group: OIHP Papers, Microfilms, A 62, T 19, T 20, T 21. Public Record Office, Kew Record Groups: CO 273, FO 323, FO 371, FO 371, MH 107. Archives du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Paris Record Group: SDN, IL — Hygiene. Archives de l’institut Pasteur, Paris RAJ , RAJ.A ; Madsen Correspondence. Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, New York Record Groups: RG 1.1, RG 2. Bodleian Library, Oxford Record Group: MS.Addison dep c. 145. 478 Corning to Terms with World Health Published Sources: Documents distributed by the Health Section of the League of Nations (Series C.H.). Official Journal of the League of Nations, 1920-1939. (Quarterly) Bulletin of the Health Organisation, 1932-1946. Monographs and Edited Volumes: Ackerknecht, Erwin H. Geschichte der Median. 7th revised ed., Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke Verlag, 1992. Alvarez, Hernández. Ta fragmentaron de la salud en Colombia y Argentina. Bogota: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2004. Ambrosius,...

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