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International Health Board (1913–1951)

Total Giving (2011): $94 million[1]

Prominent Grants:Focused mainly on strengthening developing country public health infrastructure and combatting hookworm, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and malaria.

Summary: This division of the Rockefeller Foundation was an early public health organization, conducting campaigns against malaria, yellow fever, and hookworm in Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Founded in 1913, it succeeded the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission. In 1927, it was renamed the International Health Division (IHD).

The organization functioned using two strategies: collaboration with local government agencies to address specific diseases, and using these collaborations to set up a permanent public health infrastructure. The basic principles of the IHD were:

  1. Public health work is fundamentally a function of the government.
  2. IHD can be of use by helping government agencies organize and by providing expert advice, financial resources and facilities for the education of health professionals.
  3. IHD aid is temporary and must be withdrawn when governments can control their own public health operations.
  4. All IHD aid must be given with the aim of creating or strengthening government health agencies.

The World Health Organization, formed in 1948, was seen as a successor to the IHD. The IHD was integrated into the larger Rockefeller Foundation in 1951, discontinuing its overseas work. By the time of its dismantling in 1951, the IHD had spent the current-day equivalent of billions of dollars on hookworm, yellow fever, and malaria campaigns, as well as on more delimited efforts against tuberculosis, yaws, influenza, rabies, schistosomiasis, malnutrition, and other health problems in some 93 countries and colonies.