IHO’s History

Woman administering Oral Rehydration Treatment (ORT) to child

IHO was founded by an inter-disciplinary  group of global health experts drawn from different schools and institutions at Harvard University – Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, former Harvard Institute of International Development, J F Kennedy School of Government, among others. It was under the guidance of the world-renowned Professor Emeritus John Kenneth Galbraith at Harvard University, and former US ambassador to India. His initial endorsement and recommendation paved the way for IHO’s first pilot program, The Bihar Project. (READ HERE Honorable Ambassador’s recommendation from 1992!)

A landmark study: IHO’s journey started with the ‘Bihar Project’. In 1992 and 1993, IHO conducted a series of surveys examining the socioeconomic, health and environmental conditions in the rural region of Bihar, one of the poorest areas of India. Problems were found in every sector – from health & development to education & employment. Based upon a thorough analysis of the survey results, Bihar’s demographics and prevailing government policies, we concluded that the majority of illnesses in the area were related to environmental health such as contaminated water and food, poor hygiene and lack of sanitation facilities. The resultant high incidence of diarrheal and other water-borne diseases were the principal cause of increased mortality among infants and children and the loss of productivity among adults. Both lead to increased poverty in the region. As a result, IHO decided to make the control of water-borne diseases, through the provision of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, accompanied by training in proper hygiene the backbone of its public health mission in developing countries South Asia. Other IHO public health programs are integrated with this central program.

IHO’s health centers

Details of our seminal findings were presented at several national and international meetings, including several annual conferences of the American Public Health Association (APHA) in the United States and the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) in Indonesia.