Institute for Global Health


History of IGH 

The UCL Institute for Global Health (IGH) was formed in August 2013 as a new UCL department.  In 2016, Professor Ibrahim Abubakar became the new Director of the UCL Institute for Global Health and in 2017, the UCL Research Department of Infection and Population Health merged with IGH to form the current department.

The work of IGH goes back to 1964 as the Tropical Child Health Unit set up by Professor David Morley & Professor Otto Wolff, which grew to encompass research bases across the world - primarily in Africa and Asia.  With Professor Zef Ebrahim and Dr Pam Zinkin, Morley established diploma and masters' courses in mother and child health and disability studies which were to attract many future health leaders in developing countries.

In 1990 Professor Andrew Tomkins took over as Director of the newly named Centre for International Child Health (CICH) with colleagues who developed research and teaching in key areas of Perinatal Health (Professors Anthony Costello and David Osrin), Disability (Professors Sheila Wirz and Sally Hartley), Child development (Prof. Sally McGregor), Child and Women’s Health (Prof Therese Hesketh) and Nutrition (Professors Filteau, Seal and Tomkins).

In 2006, the UCL International Perinatal Care Unit and the UCL International Health & Medical Education Centre (headed by Prof John Yudkin) were united to become the UCL Centre for International Health and Development (CIHD) and subsequently became IGH in 2013 with Prof Anthony Costello as Director.

The UCL Research Department of Infection and Population was a Unit originally in the Division of Population Health initially headed by Sir Michael Marmot, then Professor Dame Anne Johnson, and subsequently Professor Graham Hart. In 2011, the research department moved to the Institute for Epidemiology and Health Care directed with Prof Andrew Phillips as head, followed by Dr Richard Gilson until its merger with IGH in 2017. 

IGH in context with UCL

UCL is ranked among the top ten universities of the world. Established in 1826 to challenge the exclusivity of Oxford and Cambridge, UCL was the first British university to enrol women and ethnic minorities on equal terms to men. We have always emphasised the enlightenment and secular principles of our founders who include the philosopher, Jeremy Bentham.

Based in the centre of London, we are Europe's largest and most successful university in life and medical sciences. In 2014, UCL's John O'Keefe won the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

A brief history of Global Health

Adapted from Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? Clinton and Sridhar

1859 - Emergence of the International Red Cross

The International Red Cross became prominent largely as a response to the poor medical care received by soldiers during the Second Italian War of 1859.

1902 - Foundation of the Pan American Health Organization

In response to a yellow fever outbreak that had started in Latin America, the United States created the Pan American Health Association. PAHO remains the oldest international public health agency in the world today.

1907 - First Global Health Agency Established

The foundation of the Office International d'hygiene Publique aimed to communicate data collection and disease reporting on an international level. Similar to the WHO's data collection system, the OIHP was entirely dependent on its member states to self-report outbreaks.

1919 - Establishment of the League of Nations' Health Organization

Following the end of WWI, international health organization LNHO was created as an advisor to the League of Nations, and a cooperating partner to the ILO and the IRC. The LNHO primarily focused on surveillance and the control of epidemic diseases until it disbanded in the early 1940s.

1948 - Foundation of the World Health Organization

After WWII, the World Health Organization (WHO) was created as a means to coordinate international health work, defining health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease." WHO's development was based off the structure and goals of the LNHO.

1978 - First Discussion on Equitable Healthcare Access

WHO/UNICEF convened International Conference on Primary Care held in Alma-Ata. Healthcare challenges in developing countries were seriously examined, resulting in the Alma-Ata Declaration – recognising the need for universal primary care, and the need for equitable healthcare access.

1979 - Global Eradication of Smallpox

The Soviet Union sponsored the first smallpox eradication resolution in 1958. However, momentum was limited until the United States and other countries joined the cause in 1966. WHO leadership set the ambitious goal of defeating smallpox by 1976. In 1979, WHO confirmed that the world had eradicated smallpox.

2000 - Release of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals

In 2000, the United Nations released a set of Millennium Development Goals, which reinforced funding for vertical programs over horizontal programs.