Eric Schwab

Family standing in front of the rocky wall of their home, Tunisia
WHO/Eric Schwab

Eric Schwab was born in France in 1910. During his career he produced photo reports for a number of international organizations, including the International Labour Organization, UNESCO, and the United Nations Development Programme. His work appeared in the private sector as well, in publications such as the German news magazine Stern. Eric Schwab died in 1977 in France.

Mr Schwab was first hired by the WHO Division of Information in 1950 to produce a photo report on tuberculosis in Turkey. The following year he photographed the landmark Men against disease programme in South-East Asia. His photographs from this trip received worldwide acclaim, earning his work a place in Edward Steichen's 1955 exhibition The Family of Man at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Over the next two decades Mr Schwab produced dozens of reports for WHO. He travelled extensively, photographing health topics in each WHO region.

A smiling doctor came to Manila: Philippines, 1959
For this photo report, Eric Schwab covered the work of Dr Manuel Escudero to transform and revive mental health treatment in the Philippines. Mr Schwab stated that: "When Dr Manuel Escudero arrived in Manila one day in 1957 to help the government reorganize its mental health services, he found that the country's one hospital for the mentally ill had 4300 patients instead of the 1000 for which it had been built. Fear, apathy, horror and ridicule, ending in almost all cases by complete rejection of the patient by society- were encountered on all sides… The man chosen to change this situation combined intimate knowledge of the country with that of modern psychiatric methods…"

Anatomy of a project, Ethiopia 9: Ethiopia, 1961
Eric Schwab travelled to the city of Gondor and the village of Kolladuba, Ethiopia, to photograph the Ethiopia 9 project. The project was a "grand scheme to overcome in Ethiopia what is no doubt the greatest obstacle to health progress in the world today: the shortage of health workers. Its aims are: a) to provide a centre for training auxiliary personnel, b) to organize a model health centre, c) to investigate local health conditions, d) to extend health services to the whole country." (World Health magazine, 1962)