History of IAAH


The formation of the International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH) occurred in 1987 at the Fourth International Symposium in Sydney under the auspices of the Australian Association for Adolescent Health. A charter for IAAH, signed by 16 delegates from 13 countries, created an Interim Committee chaired by Dr. Murray Williams. A further 132 individuals recorded their agreement. By 1990 there were 400 members from 50 countries and informal affiliations with 60 non-government organisations. Since then, IAAH's active membership has stablised at 400 individuals from 50 countries and there are over 20 national and regional associations for adolescent health/medicine representing an estimated membership of 5000 individuals.

Dr. Murray Williams served from 1987-1989 as IAAH's inaugural president, helping to create policies and establish the organization as an international hub for adolescent health care providers. After his four-year term, Dr. Williams turned over the presidency to Dr. David Bennett (1989-1994). Dr. Bennett's presidency was spent developing an executive structure for IAAH and helping the organisation become more financially secure. Presidents following Drs. Williams and Bennett were:

Dr. Roger Tonkin (1994-2001)

Dr. Sue Bagshaw (2001-2005)

Dr. Ueli Buhlmann (2005-2009)

Dr. Linda Bearinger (2009-2013)

Dr. Bruce Dick (2013-2016)

Dr. Susan Sawyer (2016, 2017-current)

The initial executive members of IAAH were Drs. David Bennett (Australia), Diana Birch (UK), Anne McCarthy (Ireland), and Manny Chigier (Israel). Others invited to serve on the committee as representatives: Pierre-Andre Michaud (Congress Organising Committee), Herbert Friedman (WHO), Joe Sanders (SAM), Roger Tonkin (International Regional Chapter of SAM), Abdoulaye Sar (Youth Organisations). Regional representatives were also appointed: Anameli Monray (Latin American), Gerben Sinnema (Europe) and Prema Bail (Asia). The Australian Association for Adolescent Health and the Society for Adolescent Medicine contributed much appreciated financial support in the establishment of the organisation.

The 5th International Congress of Adolescent Health, "A Time for Action" held in Montreux, Switzerland in 1991, was the first international adolescent health conference under the auspices of IAAH. It was co-sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Children's Centre in Paris.The Congress was a huge success, featuring over 350 delegates from 40 countries, vibrant youth participation, and a wide collection of diverse papers, posters, and discussions. At the Congress the definitive structure for the IAAH Executive Council and the Articles of Association were ratified. IAAH's council was expanded to accommodate representatives from all regions of the world.Members from Africa, Asia, and Europe met to plan strategies for action and to develop timetables for future regional activities.

"Official Relations" status with the WHO was awarded to IAAH at the World Health Assembly in 1993. This drew IAAH into the global family of recognised, humanitarian, non-Government organisations (NGO's) and opened the way to representation at the annual World Health Assembly and other WHO events. This development further consolidated IAAH's connection with WHO's adolescent health program. IAAH was now a legitimate, international voice for youth health and its relationship with the Society for Adolescent Medicine was evolving.

In the 1990's adolescent health associations/societies were being established in Spain, Switzerland, England, Israel, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Sweden, Portugal, and New Zealand. Each set to hosting conferences in their respective regions, focusing on the needs of local youth and many provided members with a regular newsletter.

In 2011 under Dr. Linda Bearinger's guidance and with approval from the Executive Council, the IAAH website underwent major revisions, creating a more user-friendly interface, providing a wider range of content for members, and re-establishing IAAH as an international hub for those passionate about young people and the issues faced by those individuals.The Executive Council also initiated planning for the 2013 World Congress to be held in Istanbul, Turkey.


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