Dr Halfdan Mahler served three terms as director-general of the World Health
Organization (WHO) from 1973 to 1988. He joined WHO in 1951 as a senior officer attached to the National
Tuberculosis Programme in India. He came to WHO headquarters in 1962 as chief of the tuberculosis programme, a post he
held until 1969. From 1969 until 1970, he served as director of project systems analysis. From 1970 until 1973,
he served as assistant-director general of several divisions. After retiring from WHO in 1988, he directed the
International Planned Parenthood Federation until 1995. He obtained his medical degree at the University of Copenhagen in 1948 and holds a post-graduate degree in public health.