Bulletin of the World Health Organization

2008: The 60th anniversary of the Bulletin

Cover of the Bulletin from 1947
Volume 1, issue 1 of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization 1947/1948.

Reactions to the smallpox vaccine, malaria control, tuberculosis in Greece, rodent infestation in ships…these were some of the burning issues of the day when Volume 1, Number 1 of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization was published in January 1948.

In its second issue, the Bulletin’s coverage of the cholera epidemic in Egypt in September 1947 now forms an important historical record of the first emergency outbreak dealt with by the newly founded WHO.

The Bulletin’s conception in 1946 was as a mere agenda item discussed at meetings of the Interim Commission that was charged with establishing a United Nations international health agency.

The commission called for the Bulletin to be developed as a “substantial publication of the highest standard” and “a vehicle for significant studies, from whatever source, on all subjects which are of relevance to the international approach to health problems”.

Within 10 years, the journal had established itself as an authoritative source of international public health information.

Now 60 years’ later, the Bulletin is one of the top five most-cited public, environmental and occupational health journals. It has evolved from being the “principal scientific organ of WHO” to the “international journal of public health”.