wo men, members of a trachoma control team, are observing as a young boy applies ointment to his classmates' eyes.

World Health Organization: Picturing Health for All

By Erika Mills and Ginny A. Roth ~

Six women, some smiling, watch a celebration honoring the success of an anti-leprosy campaign in Burma (now Myanmar)
Women enjoying entertainment and dancing in a leprosy colony in Burma (now Myanmar), symbolic of the new hope for the future aroused by the nation-wide anti-leprosy campaign, 1958. WHO photo by Ernst Scheidegger
National Library of Medicine ID #101436981

This week, World Health Organization: Picturing Health for All, a new special display, opened in the History of Medicine Division Reading Room of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The exhibition features a selection of images from the NLM Prints & Photographs collection of World Health Organization (WHO) photographs that highlight some of WHO’s work in the 20th century.

Since the 1950s, the WHO has commissioned accomplished photojournalists to capture the transformative impact health can have on communities worldwide. In recognition of this visual medium’s unique power to inform and inspire, the special display shows how these images can communicate with the public about initiatives and developments in health care. The photographs provide an intimate look at health issues around the globe.

World Health Organization: Picturing Health for All provides a brief exploration of the work of the WHO. Display cases cover topics that include global health efforts to fight disease, World Health Day, a yearly outreach campaign held on the anniversary of the WHO’s founding, partnerships with local governments, efforts to eradicate global epidemics, maternal care programs, and projects to tackle waterborne disease.

This special display coincides with a history of medicine lecture by Theodore Brown, PhD entitled “The World Health Organization’s Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978: What Was It Then, Where Is It Now.” This lecture is in honor and memory of Elizabeth Fee, PhD, former chief of NLM’s History of Medicine Division and scholar of the history of the WHO. Dr. Brown’s lecture will take place on Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 2pm EST in the NLM Lister Hill Center. This lecture will be live-streamed globally and subsequently archived.

World Health Organization: Picturing Health for All will be on display at NLM through April 17, 2020. For information and directions go to Visit on our website. Stay tuned to Circulating Now while the exhibition is open for additional blog posts highlighting NLM’s collection of WHO photographs.

Erika Mills is outreach coordinator for the Exhibition Program in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine.

Ginny A. Roth is the Curator of Prints & Photographs in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.


  1. Hello. Can you provide a caption for the top picture with the eye drop administration? I can see captions for the other pictures and I am curious about the top one. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for asking!
      The caption for that image, which is NLM #101437242, is “A Sudanese schoolboy learning to administer medicine from a WHO-supported trachoma control team, photograph by Didier Henrioud, 1976, Courtesy National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health”
      See our recent announcement for more information and images and stay tuned for additional posts in the coming months about this image collection from our curator of Prints and Photographs.

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