Remembering Professor Lowell Levin, pioneer of health promotion

Yale University, Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library

WHO/Europe gratefully remembers the pioneering role of the late Professor Lowell S. Levin, who collaborated with and advised the Organization for more than 30 years in the areas of health promotion and improving the impact of policies in other sectors on public health.

Professor Levin died in April this year at the age of 91, leaving a legacy of influential public health policies in the WHO European Region. A memorial for him was organized on 17 August 2019 in his hometown of New Haven, United States of America.

Professor Levin was Professor Emeritus of Public Health at Yale University (United States), which he joined in 1963. Thirty years later, in 1994, he founded the global health division at the Yale School of Public Health, and ultimately led the Division of International Health and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Policy and Research at Yale.

The Lowell Levin Prize was instituted at Yale in 2009. The annual prize is awarded to a graduating student whose work addresses health promotion and global health.

In paying tribute to Professor Levin, Dr Piroska Östlin, Acting WHO Regional Director for Europe, recalled his contribution to public health in the Region: “Professor Levin was a visionary and radical in the true sense. Decades before we developed the European policy framework Health 2020 and the public health goals under the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he formulated the vision of equitable health care for all and helped WHO develop its strategies.”

“He put all his energy and effort into developing cross-sectoral collaborations, particularly in the European countries,” she continued. “In his role of adviser to WHO/Europe for more than 3 decades, he profoundly influenced the shape of current public health policies in the Region. We are truly thankful to the late Professor Levin for his help to WHO in fulfilling its mandate.”