Private Philanthropy and Global Health (A Priori)ties : The Rockefeller Fou...

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Seminar Room 2, Chrystal MacMillan Building

15A George Square



United Kingdom

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Global Health Seminar

Professor Anne-Emanuelle Birn

( Professor of Critical Development Studies (UTSC) and Social and Behavioural Health Sciences (Dalla Lana School of Public Health) at the University of Toronto )

"Private Philanthropy and Global Health (A Priori)ties : The Rockefeller Foundation and WHO in historical perspective"

In recent years, there has been a growing debate about what role philanthropic foundations should play in global health governance zboth generally and, particularly, vis-à-vis the World Health Organization (WHO). Much of this discussion revolves around today’s gargantuan philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and its sway over the agenda and modus operandi of global health. Yet such pre-occupations are not new. The Rockefeller Foundation (RF), the unparalleled 20th century health philanthropy heavyweight, both profoundly shaped WHO and maintained long and complex relations with it, even as both institutions changed over time. This talk examines the WHO-RF relationship from the 1940s to the 1980s, tracing its ebbs and flows, key moments, challenges, and quandaries, concluding with reflections on the implications of the present intertwining of philanthropy and global health.

Wednesday March 18th 2015


Seminar Room 2

Chrystal MacMillan Building

15a George Square


Anne-Emanuelle Birn, MA ScD, is Professor of Critical Development Studies (UTSC) and Social and Behavioural Health Sciences (Dalla Lana School of Public Health) at the University of Toronto and served as Canada Research Chair in International Health from 2003-2013.

Her research explores the history of public health in Latin America and the history and politics/policy of international/global health, with particular emphases on historical demography and child health, global health philanthropy, political economy of health, and societal determinants of health-- and interests ranging from the scatological to the ideological.

She has edited seven special journal issues and is widely published in North American, Latin American, African, and European journals and presses.

Professor Birn’s books include: Marriage of Convenience: Rockefeller International Health and Revolutionary Mexico (University of Rochester Press, 2006; paperback edition 2012); Textbook of International Health: Global Health in a Dynamic World (Oxford, 2009) with co-authors Yogan Pillay and Timothy Holtz; and Comrades in Health: US Health Internationalists, Abroad and at Home (Rutgers, 2013) co-edited with Theodore Brown.

She is currently working on four books, including an examination of the history of the international child health/child rights movement from the perspective of Uruguay; and a coedited volume on the history of Soviet-Latin American relations in health and medicine; and is leading a new CIHR-funded study of Social Justice-Oriented South-South Cooperation in Health.

Professor Birn has received grants from CIHR, SSHRC, NIH (NIA and NICHD), AMS, GHRI, Connaught, and other funding agencies. Her honors include Fulbright and Rotary fellowships, membership in the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society, numerous endowed lectureships across the Americas and in Japan, and in 2014 she was recognized among the top 100 Women Leaders in Global Health.

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