McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
League of Nations, Health Organization, Ludwig Rajchman
Traditional scholarship on the League of Nations labels the organization as a failure because it did not prevent the outbreak of the World War II. Recent research examines League activities in a more comprehensive manner and concludes that the organization should be credited with important and enduring achievements. Perhaps the most successful work was carried out by the Health Section led by Dr. Ludwick Rajchman. Using primary sources from the League archives in Geneva, documents from organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, articles from medical journals and other relevant secondary sources, I argue that the Health Section, became the world’s first transnational health organization. Under League auspices, the Health Section initiated important international public health programs which included the control of epidemic diseases, standardization of laboratory testing, and the development of effective disease treatments.
This thesis also examines the Health Section’s partnerships with private charitable foundations, which provided support for medical education and scientific meetings between medical experts from different nations. The most important of these conferences, the Sanitary Conventions are examined, because they facilitated the exchange of information and research data and encouraged productive communication between nations that had been bitter enemies during the Great War. I argue that the rightward shift in European political sentiment during the 1930’s led to politicization and significant reduction in the scope and effectiveness of the Health Section’s work. Finally, I examine the pivotal role Dr Ludwick Rajchman played in the planning and execution of the Health Section’s public health programs and his role in the founding of UNICEF after World War II.
weinbaum, p. J. (2020). Epidemics, Politics and Public Health: Ludwig Rajchman, MD, The League of Nations Health Organization and the Creation of a Transnational Health Institution (Master's thesis, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1956