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The Creation of an Interim Health Organization


Signing of the International Sanitary Conventions of 1944, 5 January 1945

In May 1944, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) appointed an Expert Commission on Quarantine with instructions to draft international sanitary conventions of an emergency nature, designed to take effect at the earliest possible date and to continue through the immediate post war period. The Commission considered what modifications to existing conventions would be required to ensure the new conventions conformed to the emergency conditions that had arisen from the war. To complete this task, they relied on the work done by the Office international d'hygiène publique (OIHP) immediately prior to the war and information provided by the British and American governments, including a summary of present quarantine procedures in South and North America. The 1926 International Sanitary Convention (as amended in 1938) and the 1933 International Sanitary Convention for Air Travel were the two conventions set to be amended and modified.

The resulting report was presented to the Standing Technical Subcommittee on Health for Europe. After incorporating input from the Pan-American Sanitary Bureau and the US Public Health Service, and after passing through additional committees and consultations, the new drafts were circulated to the Member States of UNRRA and after additional inputs and changes, they went out for ratification. By 15 January 1945, ten nations ratified them and the two conventions went into force.

The Creation of an Interim Health Organization