chapter  1
36 Pages

Atlantic crossings in the measurement of health: From US appraisal forms to the League of Nations' health indices

Article translated from French by Noal Mellott ( CNRS, Paris, France). International transfer of expertise during the interwar period has been the subject of sustained academic scrutiny.1 A US phenomenon, corporate philanthropies gained attention in this area through their worldwide involvement in developing public health infrastructure and standards, and in forming an elite of medical 'statesmen'.2 The Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Board, arguably the world's most important disease-control agency until the creation of WHO, was primarily interested in 'backing brains'.3 Imbued with the utopian vision that an applied science could unite a divided world, the 'Rockefeller medicine men' declared that 'to make a country safe for democracy, we must first make it healthy'. 4 In their opinion, nothing was more urgent than to help in the creation of an elite of change-inducing officials in each nation, and even more, the creation of an 'esprit de corps' among these 'translocal' professionals.