Hiroshi Nakajima

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Hiroshi Nakajima
中嶋 宏
Hiroshi Nakajima at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.jpg
Nakajima in 1995
4th Director-General of the World Health Organization
In office
Secretary GeneralJavier Pérez de Cuéllar (1982–1991)
Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992–1996)
Kofi Annan (1997–1998)
Preceded byHalfdan T. Mahler
Succeeded byGro Harlem Brundtland
Personal details
Born(1928-05-16)May 16, 1928
Chiba, Empire of Japan
DiedJanuary 26, 2013(2013-01-26) (aged 84)
Poitiers, France
Alma materTokyo Medical University (MD)
International University of Health and Welfare (PhD)

Hiroshi Nakajima (中嶋 宏, Nakajima Hiroshi, May 16, 1928 – January 26, 2013) was a Japanese doctor known chiefly for his tenure as Director-General of the World Health Organization.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born in Chiba, Japan, on 16 May 1928.

In 1955 Nakajima received his M.D. from Tokyo Medical University, Japan.[1] He then studied in Paris.[2]

At some point after 1967, he obtained a PhD in medical sciences in Japan.[3]

Professional life[edit]

Before 1974: France and Japan[edit]

From 1956 or 1958 to 1967 Nakajima worked at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research[2] doing medical and pharmaceutical research.[4] After his stay in France, he returned to Japan and became research director of Nippon Roche, a Japanese subsidiary of Hoffmann-La Roche.[4][3]

Early work at WHO[edit]

Nakajima joined WHO in 1974[4] in the position of Scientist, Drug Evaluation and Monitoring. In 1976, he became Chief of the WHO Drug Policies and Management Unit. It was in this position that he played a key role in developing the concept of essential drugs, as Secretary of the first Expert Committee on the subject.

In 1978[3] or 1979,[4] the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific nominated and elected Nakajima as Regional Director, an office he held for two consecutive terms until 1988 when he was elected Director-General of WHO.

1988–1993: First term as Director-General of WHO[edit]

In January 1988 the WHO executive board selected Nakajima to become Director-General in a 17-to-14 vote over Carlyle Guerra de Macedo of Brazil.[4]

During his leadership at WHO he notoriously had a conflict with then head of the WHO's Global Programme on AIDS (GPA), Jonathan Mann, which resulted in Mann's resignation.[5][6] Mann thought Nakajima was not aggressive enough in his approach against AIDS.[7] Much of the success of the Global Programme on AIDS was attributed to Mann,[8] who also had autonomy over the Global Programme on AIDS, which Nakajima wanted to take away.[9] Nakajima also limited Mann's budget and travel. Following Mann's resignation, the number of GPA staff dropped from more than 250 to four.[10] This conflict and its impact on WHO's AIDS efforts has been documented as a part of the PBS Frontline documentary "The age of AIDS".[11]

During his tenure, Nakajima was also accused of being a poor communicator and administrator.[12]

During his first term in 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched.[3]

1993–1998: Second term as Director-General of WHO[edit]

In May 1993, Nakajima was re-elected in a 93-to-58 vote to a second term of office as Director-General. His re-election was opposed by all major donor countries to the WHO including the United States. There was controversy surrounding this re-election because the WHO awarded contracts to executive board members prior to the vote by the executive board in January.[13] An audit was conducted that concluded in March and cleared Nakajima of misusing WHO's finances.[14] Nakajima ran against Mohammed Abdelmoumene,[12] an Algerian neurologist and Nakajima's deputy who had been fired by Nakajima in August 1992 for "disloyalty".[15]

In 1997, Nakajima announced that he was not seeking another re-election and that his term of office would end in July 1998. He was replaced by Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway, whose candidacy was supported by the United States and the European Union.[16]


Nakajima died after a short illness[1] in Poitiers, France, on January 26, 2013.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas (January 28, 2013). "Hiroshi Nakajima, Leader of W.H.O., Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Japanese Scientist Will Head World Health Organization". The New York Times. January 15, 1988. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Pincock, Stephen (April 6, 2013). "Obituary - Hiroshi Nakajima" (PDF). The Lancet. 381 (9873): 1178. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60789-8. PMID 23573527. S2CID 5295050. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Lewis, Paul (May 1, 1988). "Divided World Health Organization Braces for Leadership Change". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  5. ^ "FRONTLINE: Search the age of aids (Mann) | PBS". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
  6. ^ Philip J. Hilts (September 4, 1998). "Jonathan Mann, AIDS Pioneer, Is Dead at 51". The New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2016. Eventually, Dr. Mann's zeal on the issue brought him into conflict with the W.H.O. director general, Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, and, in March 1990, Dr. Mann resigned.
  7. ^ Collins, Huntly (July 18, 2014). "AIDS Pioneer Among the Victims: Jonathan Mann was one of first to warn of potential global devastation". Philly.com. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  8. ^ "A Regrettable Resignation". Los Angeles Times. March 20, 1990. Retrieved October 20, 2016. Much of the success was attributed to the energy and flexibility of Mann's highly personal leadership.
  9. ^ "American Chief of AIDS Program Quits in Tiff With WHO Leader". Los Angeles Times. March 16, 1990. Retrieved October 20, 2016. WHO officials said privately that Nakajima wanted to dilute the considerable organizational autonomy that Mann had won for the AIDS program within WHO and that was the basic cause of friction between the two men.
  10. ^ "Jonathan Mann quits WHO". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  11. ^ The Age of AIDS PBS.
  12. ^ a b James, Barry (January 22, 1993). "West Decries Re-election of WHO Chief". The New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  13. ^ Altman, Lawrence K. (May 6, 1993). "Embattled Japanese Doctor Retains W.H.O. Post". The New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  14. ^ "U.N. Says Inquiry Clears Chief of W.H.O." The New York Times. March 31, 1993. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  15. ^ Kroon, Robert L. (January 20, 1993). "Moral Crisis Looms Over WHO's Director-General". The New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  16. ^ "New broom at WHO". BBC News. July 21, 1998. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  17. ^ "Former Director-General of WHO dies: health contributions remembered". World Health Organization. January 28, 2013. Archived from the original on April 14, 2014. Retrieved October 17, 2016.

External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by Director-General of the World Health Organization
Succeeded by