Essential medicines and health products

Dr. Halfdan Mahler


Former Director-General
of the World Health Organization

Dr. Halfdan Mahler joined the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1951 as a senior officer for the National Tuberculosis Programme in India. Starting in 1962, he was Chief of the Tuberculosis Unit at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva until 1969, when he was appointed Director, Project Systems Analysis. In 1970, he was made Assistant Director-General of the WHO while retaining the position of Project Systems Analysis. In 1973, he was elected as the WHO's third Director-General. He was re-elected for two successive five-year terms in 1978 and 1983 respectively.

Dr. Mahler was an active part of the 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care in Alma-Ata Kazakhstan. After retiring from the WHO in 1988, he directed the International Planned Parenthood Federation until 1995. He obtained his medical degree and is an honorary alumni at the University of Copenhagen in 1948 and holds a post-graduate degree in public health.

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Key documents of historical value: