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Former Director-General of World Health
Organization and Former Prime Minister of Norway to Visit UCSD

By Heather Holliday | October 25, 2004

Few have dedicated more of their career to advancing the understanding of the inherent relationship between politics and public health than Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. She has devoted her lifework to persuading world leaders to take science seriously and to put health issues high on the political agenda. Brundtland, a physician and public health specialist, advanced that agenda both in her role as director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) and as prime minister of Norway. Now, this fall, she is visiting San Diego and will share her views on international issues on Wednesday, October 27, at 7 p.m. in the UCSD Price Center Theater.

Brundtland, the daughter of a politically active physician, became interested in medicine and politics at an early age. She became a doctor and attended the Harvard School of Public Health. Then, in 1965, Brundtland returned to Oslo and the Ministry of Health, becoming the director of Health Services for Oslo's schoolchildren. Nine years later, Brundtland accepted a position as Minister of the Environment.

Then, in 1981, after acquiring international recognition in environmental circles and a political reputation at home, she was appointed prime minister - the first woman and, at the age of 41, the youngest person to hold the post in Norway. Brundtland served three terms and more than ten years as prime minister.

During that time, in 1983, she established and chaired the World Commission on Environment and Development, widely referred to as the Brundtland Commission. This commission internationally advances the idea of sustainable development - which demands that we seek ways of living that enable people to lead healthy and economically secure lives without destroying the environment.

Brundtland was nominated as director-general of WHO in 1998. In this role, many said that she was responsible for renewing the organization's credibility and international standing. Brundtland herself said that her accomplishments included helping to make drugs more accessible to poor countries, bringing polio closer to eradication, making gains in the control of tobacco use and developing a bold new model to deal with global health threats like SARS, according to The New York Times.

Brundtland's visit is part of the 2004-2005 UCSD Convocation, which is co-sponsored by the UCSD Council of Provosts and The Helen Edison Lecture Series, which is the result of a major gift from the late Helen Edison, a San Diego philanthropist who supported numerous local educational, cultural and arts efforts. Admission to the lecture is free and parking is $3 after 4:30 p.m. A question/answer session will follow the program. For more information, please call (858) 822-0510 or email

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