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Dynamic Chiropractic – February 10, 1997, Vol. 15, Issue 04

WHO Establishes Official Relations with the Chiropractic Profession

By Editorial Staff
At its January meetings in Geneva, Switzerland the World Health Organization (WHO) has granted official status to the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) as an affiliated nongovernmental organization (NGO).

The WFC, formed in 1988, is based in Toronto, Canada, and is funded by its national chiropractic association members: national associations worldwide, including the ACA and ICA. Goals of the WFC include working with the WHO and other influential organizations to promote increased international acceptance and utilization of chiropractic services.

"WHO recognition is extremely important for legalization and development of chiropractic practice in many countries," says WFC President Dr. John Sweaney of Australia. "This historic milestone resulted from the work of many people over the past five years. It also resulted from the strong support of other NGOs, such as the International Council of Nurses, the World Federation of Neurology, and the World Federation of Health Associations."

Dr. Louis Sportelli, WFC secretary-treasurer and an ACA representative on the WFC Council, illustrates the importance of the WFC's recognition and the new level of acceptance of the chiropractic profession with this example. "There are now six chiropractors in Croatia. Last year the Croatian government, like so many governments before and in the future, contacted WHO to see whether chiropractors should be recognized by law, and if so, how. WHO delivered a positive message, referred them to the WFC, and the legislative process is now on track."

The WHO is the United Nations agency that establishes health care policies and programs, and provides advice to national governments worldwide on health care issues. The ICD codes, for example, are established by the WHO. The WHO also publishes the major journal reporting on health legislation and health professions around the world, including chiropractic.

The WHO is a huge network of organizations with two fundamental structures:

  • governmental -- The core members, providing the basic operating budget, are national governments. These members are on the WHO's executive board, committee, and assembly, which meet annually in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) -- A wide selection of private agencies with an interest in health programs and policies (e.g., universities, research foundations, philanthropic organizations, e.g., the Aga Khan Foundation, World Vision, and international federations of health professionals. NGOs provide technical financial support for WHO programs. NGOs obtain WHO recognition by establishing good working relations with the WHO for a number of years, and by meeting strict WHO criteria on structure and performance.

Attorney David Chapman-Smith, WFC secretary-general, noted that the WFC's working relationship with the WHO has centered around four major WHO programs which were important to the chiropractic profession:
  1. The Occupational Health Program -- The WHO's text, Chiropractic Methods in the Prevention and Management of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Occupational Health, will be its first publication on chiropractic. Chiropractors and medical doctors from North America, Europe, Australia and Japan have worked on this historic text, which is jointly edited by DCs John Triano, and Robert Mootz.

  2. Chronic Rheumatic Diseases Program -- The WFC's partner in an ongoing global low-back initiative researching the comparative effectiveness of chiropractic management is Life College, led by Dr. Sid Williams, Dr. Medhat Alattar, and Dr. Gary Auerbach.

  3. Traditional Health Care Program -- The WFC's partner in research that will create the first international database on the various groups of formally trained health professionals and lay healers who practice manual healing methods is RMIT School of Chiropractic (Australia), led by Professor Andreis Kleynhans.

  4. Health Legislation Program -- WFC secretary-general, Mr. Chapman-Smith, is presenting and publishing papers in this area, and providing the WHO and national governments with technical information on how to regulate and recognize the practice of chiropractic.

"WHO recognition is critical for Japan and other countries in Asia," said Dr. Bruce Vaughn, the WHO vice-president. Dr. Vaughn, a Palmer College graduate, is past president of the Hong Kong Chiropractors' Association, and represents the Asian region on the WFC Council.

"The other important thing that this new WFC achievement shows us," Dr. Vaughn continued, "is how the chiropractic profession can always achieve goals if it works together." Dr. Vaughn remarked that he wished all DCs could experience the atmosphere of WFC Council meetings where chiropractic leaders worldwide work together for common causes. "At the WFC there is no ACA or ICA, but chiropractors from these organizations, such as Dr. Lou Sportelli and Dr. Gerry Clum, who just contribute their talents as fellow chiropractors; the results speak for themselves."

If you would like more information on the WFC, how to become an associate member and support chiropractic pioneers around the world, or are interested in attending the WFC's 1997 World Chiropractic Congress, co-sponsored by WHO in Tokyo, Japan, June 6-8, 1997, contact:

The World Federation of Chiropractic
WFC Secretary Maria Patino
78 Glencairn Ave.
Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1M8 Canada
Tel: (416) 484-9978
Editor's note: The following three letters will give you a better sense of how the WFC has received official sanction with the WHO:

International Council of Nurses With which is associated the Florence Nightingale International Foundation And the International Council of Nurses Foundation In official relationship with the World Health Organization

Dr. Yuji Kawaguchi
Division of Interagency Affairs
20, avenue Appia
1211 Geneve 27

13 December 1996 Dear Dr. Kawaguchi,

Your Ref.: INA t18/348/14 Re: World Federation of Chiropractic-Application for Official Relations

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a non-governmental organisation in official relations with WHO and is a founding member of the Council of International Organisations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS), established under the auspices of WHO and UNESCO.

The ICN understands that WHO has received an application for official relations from the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) and that this will come before the relevant Standing Committee and the Executive Board during January 1997. The ICN has a copy of that application including the Memorandum with Supplementary Information dated October 7, 1996.

I am writing to you on behalf of the President of the International Council of Nurses to support that application. Internationally, the relationship between the nursing and chiropractic professions has grown to be one of mutual collaboration and respect. The ICN is confident that the WFC can continue to bring useful resources to WHO in support of its goals and programmes. The WFC has recently been accepted as a member of CIOMS by that organisation's Executive Committee, which includes representatives of the ICN and many other international medical organisations.

Having regard in these considerations, we trust that the Executive Board will look favourably upon the application from the World Federation of Chiropractic.

Yours truly,

Judith Oulton
Executive Director


c/o A.P.H.A.
1015 Fifteenth Street N.W., Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20005-2605 U.S.A.
Phone (202) 789-5696/Fax (202) 789-5661

10 December 1996

Yuji Kawaguchi, MD, PhD
Division of Interagency Affairs
World Health Organization
20 avenue Appia
CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland

Your Ref: INA T18/348/14 Re: World Federation of Chiropractic - Application for Official Relations

Dear Dr. Kawaguchi:

The purpose if this letter is to offer the support of the World Federation of Public Health Association (WFPHA) for the application of the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) for official relations with WHO. We are familiar with the WFC and have a copy of relevant documentation, including the Memorandum with Supplementary Information, dated 7 October 1996.

Members of the chiropractic profession have been increasingly active in national public health associations. In 1995, after approximately 10 years of collaborative work, the American Public Health Association created a separate chapter for chiropractic in recognition of the contribution of members of that profession to the activities of APHA. WFPHA is of the view that the WFC can be a significant resource in assisting the goals and activities of WHO.

For these reasons, WFPHA gives its warm support to the present application.


Diane Kuntz, MPH
Executive Secretary

March 27, 1996

David A. Chapman-Smith
World Federation of Chiropractic
3080 Young Street, Suite 3002
Toronto, Ontario M4N 3N1 Canada

Dear Dr. Chapman-Smith:

Your organization support of NCIH has perhaps never been more critical than it is now. In this election year, with the U.S. government pondering between policies that will withdraw us from the world or maintaining US leadership in health and international development, the NCIH network has a critical role to play. We are expanding to meet this need.

As the head of the newly created Membership and Advocacy Department, I encourage your renewal for two reasons. First for the regular benefits NCIH provides, and second to be a part of our effort to move international health and other effective development programs to the top of the political agenda. Our advocacy goal is to find and coordinate at least 10 people in every U.S. Congressional District who will be active in generating local and ultimately Congressional support for measurable international health goals as a top national priority.

Rapid air travel, population shifts caused by war, economic desperation, environmental degradation or natural disasters added to cutbacks in US funding for foreign assistance, health surveillance and research, now threaten the national security of the U.S. -- and every individual in the US and the international community. These factors are a deepening concern to international health organizations such as NCIH and can now be used to shift current policy debate.

This year's NCIH Conference, "Global Health: Future Risks, Present Needs," will focus on the links between health, development, and national security. Along with a stellar cast of presenters and panelists, we are planning a special opportunity for NCIH members and other conference participants to visit relevant Capitol Hill offices. Is there someone in your office who would be interested in this effort? We are planning a variety of post-conference activities as well. Attached is a "participation interest" form to fill out and return regarding these efforts.

Renewing your Organizational Membership will help you and each of the NCIH affiliates move forward on this path. Thank you for your attention to this request. Please call if you have any concerns, questions or ideas regarding our revitalized mission of advocacy.


Chuck Woolery
Director, Membership and Advocacy Department


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