|Director-General of World Health Organization|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Marcolino Gomes Candau|
George Brock Chisholm
18 May 1896
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
|Died||4 February 1971 (aged 74)|
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Grace Ryrie Chisholm (m. 1924)
|Alma mater||University of Toronto|
Brock Chisholm World War I veteran, and the first director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). He was the 13th Canadian Surgeon General and the recipient of numerous accolades, including Order of Canada, Order of the British Empire, Military Cross, and Efficiency Decoration.(18 May 1896 – 4 February 1971) was a Canadian psychiatrist, medical practitioner,
George Brock Chisholm was born on 18 May 1896, in Oakville, Ontario, to a family with deep ties to the region. Under Sir Isaac Brock, after whom Chisholm was named, his great-great-grandfather fought against the Americans during the War of 1812 and was Oakville's founder. His father was Frank Chisholm, who ran a coal yard.
In 1915 during the First World War, age 18, Chisholm joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, serving in the 15th Battalion, CEF as a cook, sniper, machine gunner and scout. His leadership and heroism were twice rewarded (after being twice wounded): with a Military Cross for his efforts in a battle outside of Lens, France; and the Bar. He rose to the rank of captain, was injured once, and returned home in 1917.
After the war, Chisholm pursued his lifelong passion of medicine, earning his MD from the University of Toronto by 1924 before interning in England, where he specialized in psychiatry. After six years in private practice in his native Oakville, he attended Yale University where he specialized in the mental health of children. During this time, Chisholm developed his strong view that children should be raised in an "as intellectually free environment" as possible, independent of the prejudices and biases (political, moral and religious) of their parents.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Chisholm rapidly rose in stature within the Canadian military and government. He joined the war effort as a psychiatrist dealing with psychological aspects of soldier training, before rising to the rank of Director General Medical Services, the highest position within the medical ranks of the Canadian Army. He was the first psychiatrist to head the medical ranks of any army in the world.
In 1946, Chisholm became executive secretary of the Interim Commission of the World Health Organization (WHO), based in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO succeeded the League of Nations's Health Organization. Chishom was one of 16 international experts consulted in drafting the agency's first constitution. He recommended the WHO's name, with emphasis on "world." He defined health for the WHO as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." The WHO charter also established that health is a fundamental human right and that "the health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security."
The WHO became a permanent UN fixture in April 1948, and Chisholm became the agency's first Director General on a 46–2 vote. Chisholm was now in the unique position of being able to bring his views on the importance of international mental and physical health to the world. Refusing re-election, he occupied the post until 1953, during which time the WHO dealt successfully with a cholera epidemic in Egypt, malaria outbreaks in Greece and Sardinia, and introduced shortwave epidemic-warning services for ships at sea.
In 1934, he predicted the coming of World War II.
Chisholm was a controversial public speaker who nevertheless spoke with great conviction, and drew much criticism from the Canadian public for comments in the mid-1940s that children should not be encouraged to believe in Santa Claus, the Bible or anything he regarded as supernaturalism. Calls for his resignation as Deputy Minister of Health were quelled by his appointment as Executive Secretary of the WHO, but his public perception as "Canada's most famously articulate angry man" lingered.
Religious and other conservative writers and groups have accused Chisholm of being a Marxist or a Communist or subversive. Others placed Chisholm among three prominent Humanists who early on headed important United Nations agencies: Julian Huxley of UNESCO and John Boyd-Orr of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). At least one conservative women's group in Southern California considered Chisholm to be the Anti-Christ.
Chisholm's honors and awards include:
At his death, the New York Times remembered Chisholm as "small town doctor who became director general of the World Health Organization" and also called him "Prophet of Disaster."
Historica Canada notes he was an early leader in warning about the "danger of pollution, overpopulation, and the nuclear arms race."
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|Non-profit organization positions|
None (First in office)
| Director General of the World Health Organization
Marcolino Gomes Candau