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Global Studies Fellow-in-Residence: Dr. Gro Brundtland (Fall 2005)

Dr. Gro Brundtland, former Director-General of the World Health Organization was be the Global Studies Fellow in the fall of 2005.

Few people have had an impact on society as global as Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, a medical doctor and Master of Public Health (MPH). She spent 10 years as a physician and scientist in the Norwegian public health system and served 20 years in public office. Dr. Brundtland was the youngest person and the first woman to hold the office of Prime Minister in Norway, when she was appointed Prime Minister in 1981. With two other periods as Prime Minister from 1986-1989 and 1990-1996, Dr. Brundtland accumulated more than 10 years as Head of Government.

Throughout her political career, Dr. Brundtland has developed a growing concern for issues of global significance. In 1983, the then United Nations Secretary-General invited her to establish and chair the World Commission on Environment and Development. The Commission, best known for developing the broad political concept of sustainable development, published its report "Our Common Future" in April, 1987. The Commission’s recommendations led to the Earth Summit - the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

In her acceptance speech as Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998, for the World Health Assembly, Dr. Brundtland defined the WHO's role as “being the moral voice and the technical leader in improving health of the people of the world. Ready and able to give advice on the key issues that can unleash development and alleviate suffering. I see our purpose to be combating disease and ill-health - promoting sustainable and equitable health systems in all countries." During Dr. Brundtland’s term as Director-General (1998-2003) the WHO made substantial progress in reaching the goals set at the beginning of her term. Health had been put on the global development agenda by her participation at G-8 meetings and given a natural and prominent place in the UN Millennium Development Goals. A substantial amount of resources had been redirected to health, health as an investment for development had taken root, and the WHO had negotiated the first ever, International Health Convention, the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control.

Upon retirement from the WHO Dr. Brundtland continued to serve as Health Policy Fellow at Harvard University, and as member of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and UN reform appointed by the UN Secretary General. Dr. Brundtland remains a strong voice for national health. She is one of the most distinguished global leaders today.