Global Health Histories

The Global Health Histories project was established within the WHO headquarters in late 2004 and expanded into the regional offices from 2009 onwards. An official WHO activity, its mission is based on the principle that understanding the history of health, especially during the last 60 years, helps the global public health community to respond to the challenges of today and help shape a healthier future for everyone, especially those most in need.

Forming an important part of the project, the Global Health Histories Seminars are organised with WHO partners around the world, at WHO headquarters, regional and country offices, as well as with WHO member states and university partners around the world. Since 2005, the seminars have been generously supported by the Wellcome Trust.

Seminars bring together panellists from diverse backgrounds to discuss and debate topical issues in global health, based on a deeply inter-disciplinary examination of the recent past. There have now been well over 120 seminars, with a tremendous array of topics covered. The seminars provide access to significant amounts of useful data and ideas for effective policy engagement, staff training, and public health education and engagement about the uses and expansion of healthcare. Where possible each event is broadcast live, so that audiences can listen to the talks, view the speakers’ PowerPoint presentations and, if they wish, even pose questions to the presenters and other discussants.

New topics

In the past year, Global Health Histories seminars have focussed on topics including Universal Health Coverage and Primary Healthcare; Health in Emergencies; Air Pollution; Antimicrobial Resistance and Zika. Upcoming seminars will continue to focus on the important issue of Universal Health Coverage, looking at gaps, forms, possibilities and impact in regional and national contexts around the world, with attention also being paid to the programme’s connections to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal ambitions. Other important themes will be covered by the seminars as well, which includes Mental Health; the 40th anniversary of Smallpox Eradication; Vaccination and Vaccine Hesitancy; Non-Communicable Diseases; Private-Public Partnerships in the Health; the Cultural and Legal Determinants of Health etc. New topics are regularly added to the future programme; please check the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories’ website for regularly updated information on new and upcoming events.

WHO Centre for Global Health Histories

The Centre is a designated collaborating centre of the a WHO Regional Office for Europe’s Cultural Contexts of Health and Well-being (CCH) project, based in the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation.


Several of the 2019 GHH seminars are a collaboration with the CCH project’s Culture & Health webinar series 2019.

Contact information

WHO Press
World Health Organization
20 Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27