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Gallery of PAHO Directors
Hugh Smith Cumming was born in Hampton, Virginia, USA, on August 17, 1869. He obtained medical degrees from the University of Virginia Department of Medicine in 1893 and the University College of Medicine in Richmond in 1894. Shortly after, he obtained a commission in the Marine Hospital Service (later renamed the U.S. Public Health Service). He served in U.S. quarantine stations in New York, the South, and the West Coast. In 1920 he was appointed surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service and simultaneously director of the International Sanitary Bureau (renamed the Pan American Sanitary Bureau in 1923). Under his leadership, the countries of the Americas ratified the Pan American Sanitary Code. In addition, five advisory meetings of the directing heads of the public health services of the American Republics were held, the Boletín de la Oficina Sanitaria Panamericana was published regularly, the Bureau had its first traveling representative, and both the annual budget and the number of permanent staff of the Bureau were increased. Dr. Cumming retired from his post as U.S. surgeon general in 1936 but stayed on as the first full-time director of the Bureau until 1947. Dr. Cumming was named director emeritus of the Bureau in 1947. He died in Washington, D.C., on December 20, 1948.
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