Neglected tropical diseases

In memoriam
Dr Pierre Mercenier

8 May 2014 | Geneva
Dr Pierre Mercenier

We are deeply saddened by the recent passing on 26 April 2014 of Dr Pierre Mercenier - one of the world’s foremost expert in public health. He was 84.

Dr Mercenier inspired an entire generation of students coming from all around the world. Today, there are few scientific publications in the field of organization of health services that currently do not use one or more of the concepts which Dr Mercenier coined or that are marked by the ideas he developed such as ‘ global ‘, ‘continuous’ and ‘ integrated ‘ care.

Over the past 40 years, he shared ideas with Dr Halfdan Mahler (WHO Director-General from 1973-1988) and many others when he helped to formulate the policy of Primary Health Care (PHC) that the UN would endorse at the historic Alma Ata conference in 1978.

But in addition to the momentum at the time, he helped to spread his concepts and ideas through meaningful dialogue and listening, conceptual rigour, and a skill to get things done. This allowed him to have his ideas applied and integrated in a sustainable manner in health systems - a practice which required input from many creative and motivated field practitioners.

The intrinsic quality of his theories on the organization of services and care systems also played a key role in their dissemination: they were useful for clinicians because he conceived them based on his own practice as a clinician – essentially that of a cardiologist and pneumologist.

Dr Mercenier was also an independent thinker; this allowed him to come up innovative concepts for public health professionals and society.

The world has lost a true humanist and a reflective thinker.

Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases