International Health: HISTORY
Growth of International Health
An Analysis and History
American Public Health Association
Since its founding more than a century ago, the leadership
of the American Public Health Association has recognized
the importance of understanding public health from a
global perspective. This was not only to protect the health
of the public, but also for international humanitarianism
and justice, so all people everywhere can achieve the highest
levels of health and quality of life.
Ironically, almost exactly one hundred years after its founding,
the APHA established a special membership section for
International Health. This became the focal point for all of
the APHA members who have a professional interest in
how APHA can contribute toward the improvement of
public health in international or global settings.
The growth and development of the APHA International
Health Section is outlined in detail in the following historical
document account. As you will discover, APHA itself
has gone through many changes as it approached this agenda.
This historical review explains how APHA viewed
International Health from a professional, scientific, political
as well as a financial perspective. The lessons learned
from this historical review provide important insights both
to APHA leadership, the membership at large, and to those
with whom APHA seeks to become partners.
APHA leadership, members, and International Health staff
have demonstrated a special ability to tie APHA’s public
health interests, both domestic and international, into the
strategic priorities of the global health community.
Through government and private initiatives, bi-lateral as
well as multi-lateral efforts, APHA has worked aggressively
to promote and protect the health of all citizens of the
world. The unique linkage between APHA and the World
Federation of Public Health Associations has been a critical
partnership ally in this process.
Given all of the changes in our global community since the
appearance of SARS, it is woefully apparent that
International Health cooperation must be a priority of the
public health community. APHA has the opportunity,
experience, and capacity to assume a key leadership role in
the changed world in which we all live.
As you read this history, I urge you to use these experiences
to better identify and support what next steps APHA
should take in helping to improve the public health of all
of the world’s citizens. At the same time, you have the
opportunity to decide how you and your skills can contribute
to this future agenda. APHA has developed a solid
base, a talented and energized membership and staff. We
are now ready to move with confidence into our second
century of International Health leadership.
On behalf of the Executive Board of APHA I want to personally
thank everyone involved in the development of this
important documentation of APHA’s history. We especially
want to thank the Rockefeller Foundation for their enlightened
support some four decades ago in helping launch in
1959 APHA’s international endeavors, and, now in 2003,
for their support enabling us to undertake this timely history
Finally, a special word of thanks to Frank Lostumbo,
APHA member who authored the history, and to the
Advisory Committee members—Ray Martin, Russell
Morgan and Allen Jones—who assisted in the process.
Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP
September 30, 2003