Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.
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
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
Wei DS. Szeming Sze, MD. JAMA. 1999;281(6):579. doi:10.1001/jama.281.6.579