History and timeline of WHO Kobe Centre

WHO Kobe Centre

Following a decision by the Executive Board of WHO in January 1995, a Memorandum of Understanding between WHO and the Kobe Group* established the WHO Centre for Health Development. During its first ten years, the Centre promoted international exchange and understanding on issues related to cities and health, health and welfare systems and ageing and health. Scientific meetings, research forums, consultations and symposiums attracted participation from more than 85 countries representing national and local policy- and decision-makers, leaders, academics, scientists and other stakeholders.

In June 2005, the Memorandum of Understanding between WHO and the Kobe Group was extended for another ten years. The importance of building on the Centre's strong legacy of research in preparing to meet new challenges to attaining health in development was emphasized. The new research direction reflected a consensus shared by WHO, the Kobe Group and other stakeholders about the growing importance of urbanization as a cross-cutting driving force in health and development.

Bolstering its research activity was the selection of WHO Kobe Centre as hub of the Knowledge Network on Urban Settings of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) in 2005. The Commission brought together leading global experts on health, education, housing and economics to seek the best ways to address health's social determinants and safeguard the health of poor and marginalized populations. From 2006, the Centre helped to build the evidence base by coordinating findings from researchers, journalists and field workers around the world, as well as advocating strategic and tactical interventions to reduce health inequity in urban settings.

One of the findings of the report was the expressed need for a practical tool policy-makers could use to assess and respond to health inequities in cities. The Urban HEART tool was developed ans is now available for use.

*Refers to the local funding partners of the WHO Centre for Health Development, comprised of Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe City, the Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Kobe Steel, Ltd. The Kobe Group contributes all operating funds of the WKC.

October 2011
Appointment of Mr Alex Ross as the Director.

January 2008
Appointment of Dr Jacob Kumaresan as the Director.

January 2006
Appointment of Dr Soichiro Iwao as the Director.

June 2005
Memorandum of Understanding to extend the work of the WHO Kobe Centre a further 10 years from 2006-2015 signed by representatives of WHO and Japanese authorities

January 2004
Appointment of Dr Wilfried Kreisel as the Director.

January 1999
Appointment of Dr Yuji Kawaguchi as the Director.

April 1998
Official opening of permanent WKC premises in Wakinohama-Kaigandori, Kobe. Ceremony attended by Her Imperial Highness Princess Sayako

March 1996
Opening of WHO Kobe Centre on temporary premises in the Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building

February 1996
Appointment of Dr Andrzej Wojtczak as Director of the WHO Kobe Centre

August 1995
Memorandum of Understanding signed by representatives of WHO and Japanese authorities


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