15 December 2016 - PAHO is saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Halfdan T. Mahler, former Director-General of WHO and longtime champion of primary health care and "Health for All." He died on Dec. 14 at the age of 93.
Mahler, a Danish national, served as WHO's third Director-General from 1973 to 1988. He played a key leadership role in organizing the historic 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care in Alma Ata, Kazakstan, and in shaping the declaration that defined the Health for All by the Year 2000 strategy. Under his leadership, WHO and UNICEF jointly produced the report Alternative Approaches to Meeting Basic Health Needs in Developing Countries, which examined successful primary health care efforts in various countries.
Mahler began his career at WHO in 1951 as senior officer for the National Tuberculosis Program in India. Among his other roles in WHO were Chief of the Tuberculosis Unit in Geneva, Director of Project Systems Analysis and Assistant Director-General.
After retiring from WHO in 1988, Mahler directed the International Planned Parenthood Federation until 1995. A frequent visitor to WHO after retirement, Mahler maintained his close connection with staff, and cheered the Organization's progress as it expanded its work in primary care. He will be deeply missed by the global health community.