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WORLD HEALTH FORUM. 1988; 9(2):143-6.This article summarizes the activities and the philosophy of WHO in its effort to improve worldwide health care since its inception some 40 years ago. At the 1st World Health Assembly in 1948 it was pointed out that little could be achieved by medical services unless the existing economic, social and other relations among peoples have been improved. The immediate priorities of the new Organization were more limited: to build up health services in the areas destroyed by the war, and to fignt the spread of the big infectious killer diseases. It took almost 30 years before the WHO really got down to trying to do something about the economic, social and other conditions which lie at the heart of most health problems. The Alma-Ata Declaration in 1978 heralded a new era in health. The concept of primary health care and the global health-for-all strategy to implement it are now rapidly gaining ground. In villages, towns and districts, people are waking up to the fact that they can contribute to their own health destiny. As WHO embarks on its 5th decade, there are grounds for optimism: health is moving in the right direction in spite of major obstacles.
In: Wood C, Rue Y, ed. Health policies in developign countries. London, England, The Royal Society of Medicine, 1980. 19-23. (Royal Society of Medicine. International Congress and Symposium Series; No. 24)During the years 1970-1980 the population of children in developing countries has increased by about 285 million, while there is an inequality in the distribution of the resources needed to care for them. At the same time, traditional medical school training caters to largely adult populations with little emphasis on the prevention of illness and the promotion of good health. In the Third World Countries children constitute almost 50%, and with the mothers 70% of the total population. In this group the mortality and morbidity rates are particularly high despite the fact that most of the conditions are easily prevented. Primary health care provided by a part-time, trained health worker who has been recruited from the community in which he will work is a very positive approach. Another area which should be expanded is the ongoing training for existing doctors through distance teaching so that their knowledge remains up to date. All levels of health workers involved in primary health care can learn through nets of information consisting of journals, correspondence, scientific meetings and visits to other centers. There are even free resources available such as Contact and Salubritas. More use should be made of the resources.
[Current orientations and future perspectives of the International Union of Health Education] Union internationale d'education pour la sante orientations actuelles et perspectives d'avenir.
International Journal of Health Education. 1982 Oct; 1(2):57-64.In his report, Dr. E. Berthet, Secretary General of the IUHE, stresses the importance of 4 major concepts which should serve as the basis for all the activities of the Union: 1) health education is a major factor in economic and social development; 2) health education is not merely 1 more discipline amongst many but an attitude of mind, a way of thinking and acting which requires medical, psychological, pedagogic, social and economic data; 3) health education should neither blame nor moralize, it should not exploit human fear and pain, it should inform, on the basis of sound epidemiological data, about the major avoidable risks; 4) health education should avoid medical systematization of the social circumstances deriving from living conditions which have nothing to do with pathological conditions of the human body. In future, health education should take further steps and become part of the knowledge of all persons directly or indirectly responsible for economic and social development, e.g.: health professionals, particularly primary health care workers, teachers, leaders in private and public organizations, trade-unionists, social workers, decision-makers, mass media representatives. The latter should work in close cooperation with health professionals. The report also reviews the numerous meetings organized or sponsored since 5 September 1979 by the IUHE. During the last 3 years, working relationships between the Union and international institutions--particularly WHO, UNICEF, and UNESCO--have developed considerably. In May 1983 the technical discussions of the 36th World Health Assembly will be devoted to new health education policies in primary health care. After mentioning the financial difficulties the Union has to face and expressing his gratitude to all Union officers, Dr. Berthet concludes in the words of an oriental saying, that if you make plans for 1 year, grow some rice; if you make plans for 10 years, grow a tree; if you make plans for a century, teach the people. (author's modified) (summaries in ENG, SPA)
In: Bannerman RH, Burton J, Ch'en Wen-Chieh. Traditional medicine and health care coverage: a reader for health administrators and practitioners. Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization, 1983. 102-9.This article presents a short history of public health and explains the advantages of using combined approaches to the solution of public health programs. The cases of smallpox and kwashiorkor are given as examples. Although vaccination for smallpox was discovered in the 18th-century, it was not until 1960 that the member states of the World Health Organization decided to rid the world of the disease. With great managerial skill, the epidemiological knowledge was gathered, and local beliefs and customs were documented and taken into account when planning the strategy and the tactics of smallpox eradication. New techniques for producing vaccine and vaccination were developed and adapted for use in a variety of field conditions. The effectiveness of the new techniques of vaccination was demonstrated to the local people who sooner or later believed that vaccination succeeded in preventing the disease. Kwashiorkor, meaning 'displaced child' in the Gha language, was recognized in Ghana as a disease syndrome affecting babies displaced from their mother's breast by the advent of a pregnancy and later by the arrival of a new baby. The discovery might have taken place sooner if health workers had given heed to the traditional name of the condition. The foundation of public health is epidemiology, the science which explores how disease falls upon the community. As yet it has as a rule only considered the host from the point of view of such simple characteristics as age, sex, and mortality. It has omitted any serious study of the behavior, beliefs, motives, relationships, and capacities of the host which are frequently major factors in the maintenance of health and the etiology of sickness in the society. WHO, an organization which combines medicine and public health measures, is mentioned as recently putting greater stress on involving local inhabitants with some basic training in providing combined services.