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Obituary
February 10, 1999

Szeming Sze, MD

Author Affiliations
 

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;281(6):579. doi:10.1001/jama.281.6.579

Szeming Sze, MD , retired former medical director of the United Nations (UN), who will be remembered particularly for his part in establishing the World Health Organization (WHO) as a specialized agency of the UN, died in Pittsburgh, Pa, on October 27, 1998.

With the help of his United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) colleague, Dr Gerald da Paula Souza of Brazil, Dr Sze secured the cooperation of several governments in combining 5 existing international health organizations, which led to the International Health Conference of July 1946 from which the WHO was established. Dr Sze continued to hold key posts as a member of the WHO Interim Commission and also as secretary of the UN Administrative Committee on Coordination, composed of the heads of the UN and its related agencies.

Dr Sze was the eldest son of Dr Sao-Ke Alfred Sze, Chinese ambassador in London and later in Washington, DC. He was educated in England at Winchester College and Cambridge University, returning to China in 1934 after interning at St Thomas' Hospital in London. While on a visit to the United States, he was prevented from returning to China because of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He then joined the Lend-Lease Program of the Chinese government, which culminated in his attending the San Francisco Conference that gave birth to the WHO.

Dr Sze joined the staff of UNRRA in 1947 and the UN in 1948, becoming medical director in 1954 until he retired in 1968.

Dr Sze is survived by 2 sisters, Julia Sze-Bailey of New York, NY, and Alice Wang of Cambridge, Mass; his daughter Diane Wei of Pittsburgh, Pa; his son, Chiaming of Boston, Mass; 5 grandchildren; and 7 great-grandchildren.

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