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The League of Nations Health Organisation was the first international health organisation with a broad mandate and global responsibilities. It acted as a technical agency of the League of Nations, an institution designed to safeguard a new world order during the tense interwar period. The work of the Health Organisation had distinct political implications, although ostensibly it was concerned «merely» with health. Until 1946, it addressed a broad spectrum of issues, including public health data, various diseases, biological standardization and the reform of national health systems. The economic depression spurred its focus on social medicine, where it sought to identify minimum standards for living conditions, notably nutrition and housing, defined as essential for healthy lives. Attracting a group of innovative thinkers, the organization laid the groundwork for all following international health work, effective until today.
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The Author: Iris Borowy, born 1962, was educated at the Universities of Tuebingen and College Park, Maryland (USA). She received her Ph.D. in 1997 and is currently Acting Professor of European History at the University of Rostock. She has lectured widely on twentieth century international relations, on social history and on the politics of international health.
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