History of WHO
The Global Health Histories project was established within the WHO headquarters and regional offices in late 2004. Its mission is based on the principle that understanding the history of health, especially during the last 60 years, helps the global public health community to respond to the challenges of today and help shape a healthier future for everyone, especially those most in need.
Forming an important part of the project, the annual WHO Global Health Histories seminar series is supported by the Wellcome Trust, and co-hosted in Geneva and elsewhere by the World Health Organization and the University York. Seminars take place once a month, and bring historians and social scientists from around the world to discuss and debate topical issue in global health with WHO. There have now been eighty-five seminars spanning a ten year period with a tremendous array of topics covered. The seminars, presented by the academics and senior WHO officials, provide access to significant amounts of useful data and ideas for effective public engagement about the uses and expansion of healthcare. Each event is broadcast live, participants can listen to the talks, view the speakers’ PowerPoint presentations and, if they wish, even pose questions to the presenters and other discussants.
New topics in 2015
The 2015 seminar series will cover topics like Ayurveda, a system of medicine that has been important to the Indian sub-continent and diaspora during the course of many centuries, and Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne viral disease first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952. The series will consider the recent history of challenges such as air pollution, the cause behind famous London ‘pea-soupers’ of the first half of the twentieth century which killed thousands with air containing soot particles and poisonous gases, and which today causes respiratory and other diseases. Climate change, the focus of September’s seminar, portends a number of potential impacts on health, not just in the increased frequency of extreme weather but in the range and occurrence of diseases as well as impact on food production.
All seminars are held in the WHO library from 12:30 – 14:00 CET and are also broadcast via webinar. To register for a webinar, please contact: GHHistories@who.int.