Chisholm, WHO and the pursuit of the public's health

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					                                                                                                                                                         Humanities

                          fewer than 40 years to make this leap.                     For example, we learn about the effects      victory over childhood disease and pre-
                          Developing countries are transitioning                     of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa           mature mortality. However, not all
                          even more rapidly. To put it another way,                  and the implications for both grandpar-      countries nor all people age equally
                          the developed regions first got rich, they                 ents and grandchildren of the “missing       well. And certainly, the poor grow old
                          then got old. In the developing regions, it                generation” of people between the ages       less salubriously and happily. This
                          is exactly the opposite — with unknown,                    of 20 and 40. The chapter on China           book offers much information and food
                          but likely sobering implications.                          deals with, among other things, the de-      for thought as we continue along life’s
                              The authors also assess countries                      mographic effect of the low fertility        journey — both as individuals as well
                          that are enjoying high rates of                            policies of the current government.          as citizens of our aging planet.
                          longevity, such as Denmark, France                            The book concludes with an exami-
                          and the United States. Comparatively                       nation of research and program leaders,      A. Mark Clarfield MD
                          speaking, Canada isn’t doing too badly,                    whose work ranges from biology to the        Department of Geriatrics, Soroka
                          but can certainly learn from the experi-                   effect of the new longevity on retire-        Hospital
                          ences of these others.                                     ment security — an issue of no little im-    Ben Gurion University of the Negev
                              Another section of essays examines                     portance given the recent economic           Beer-Sheva, Israel
                          the challenges for countries facing rapid                  downturn.
                          population aging in the next 20 to 30                         All in all, the aging of populations      Dr. Clarfield is the international affairs
                          years. Chapters on Africa, China, Latin                    across the globe should be considered a      editor of the Journal of the American
                          America offer interesting perspectives.                    great leap forward, reflecting a rousing     Geriatrics Society.




                          Chisholm, WHO and the pursuit of the public’s health
                          Brock Chisholm, the World Health                                                                        leader, the politics of the organization,
                           Organization, and the Cold War                                                                         and the postwar competition of ideolo-
                          John Farley                                                                                             gies that soon turned into bitter animos-
                          UBC Press; 2008. 254 pp $85.00                                                                          ity, considerably detracting from the ob-
                                                                                                                                  jectives, performance and efficacy of the
                                                                                                                                  organization.


                          W
                                      hether by coincidence or by                                                                     This book will be of interest to
                                      design, 4 remarkable books                                                                  medical historians, health planners and
                                      that express the ideal of                                                                   social scientists and is a vast depository
                          peace through health, the goal of the                                                                   of documentation for Canadian polito-
                          World Health Organization, were pub-                                                                    logues, students of health policy and in-
                          lished in 2008, coinciding with WHO’s                                                                   ternational administrators.
                          60th anniversary. And to this Canadian                                                                      The author begins with an account of
                          reviewer the fact that all their authors                                                                Chisholm’s life, from a young, decorated
                          and editors happen to be Canadian is                                                                    Ontario soldier to physician, psychiatrist,
                          an expression not of chauvinism, but                                                                    major-general, deputy minister of health
                          of legitimate pride.                                                                                    at the federal level, representative to the
                              Cri
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: The author's ambiguity also translates in other ways; indeed whether through indecisiveness or concern for impartiality [John Farley] lets some doubts persist that lead to vague interpretations and sometimes give the impression of a dreamy, impractical man with wooly ideas on such issues as poverty, family planning, peace, social services and medical coverage. That opponents during the Cold War might have thought this and used it against him may be understandable, but that another Canadian author should even today think that [George Brock Chisholm] was "a bit of a second rater" and that there was "mieux" (his italics) is untenable.1 Yes, like most people, Chisholm had his weaknesses and idiosyncrasies and he did not hold a masters in public health, but he knew how to surround himself with the best experts of the time and had confidence in youth. His directors of finance and publications were both aged 38 when appointed, and I recall when he officiated at our medical graduation, his passionate message was: "safeguard your youthful vision and work health into social justice." And as his objective was the public's health rather than traditional public health, his being from outside the club should be seen as an advantage, as indeed it proved to be.
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