50 years of advancing Treatment for All

1960s - Beginnings

The World Health Organization and the World Federation of Hemophilia have had a long and fruitful relationship since 1969.”  — Ana Padilla, World Health Organization

1. 1965 Congress in Paris, France. 2. Prof. Kenneth Brinkhous and Schnabel. 3. Henri Chaigneau

The World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) was established in 1963 by Frank Schnabel, a Montreal businessman born with severe hemophilia A. His vision, as he stated, was to improve treatment and care for “the hundreds of thousands of haemophiliacs” worldwide through a new international organization.

Working with leaders from a group of national patient associations, Schnabel convened a global meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 25, 1963. There were representatives from 12 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Schnabel’s opening words to those assembled still ring true. “The threat to the life of just one haemophiliac would be sufficient reason for us to travel to this meeting. We are here, however, to help the hundreds of thousands of haemophiliacs by adding another organization which can be instrumental, in liaison with national societies.”

At the Copenhagen meeting, Schnabel was elected interim chairman, Henri Chaigneau (France) and John Walsh (U.S.A.) were elected interim vice-chairmen. Interim medical secretaries were Cecil Harris, MD (Canada), E. Neumark, MD (U.K.), and Knut-Eric Sjolin, MD (Denmark). Sir Weldon Dalrymple-Champneys (U.K.), Prof. Kenneth Brinkhous (U.S.A.), and Prof. J.P. Soulier (France) were elected as the interim Medical and Scientific Advisory Board.

At the 1964 WFH meeting in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the structure of the new organization was defined with a constitution and an elected Executive Committee. Schnabel was re-elected chairman, Harris elected as first vice-chairman, and Chaigneau and Walsh as vice-chairmen. S. van Creveld, MD (the Netherlands), and Brinkhous were elected co-chairmen of the Medical Advisory Board, and Soulier as vice-chairman.

Over the next few years, the WFH grew rapidly. It held World Congresses regularly and created a global network of healthcare providers, national hemophilia associations, people with hemophilia, and their families.

The 1968 WFH Congress was an important milestone. “It was the first major scientific event in the series,” Anthony Britten, MD (U.K.), wrote in a WFH 25th anniversary retrospective. “Cryoprecipitate was clearly a reality. Lyophilized concentrates were increasingly available. Surgery was becoming safe for most hemophiliacs. Carol Kasper reported outpatient dental extractions. This was a time when there seemed to be no limits.”

The WFH reached a turning point in 1969 when the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged the WFH’s growing international reputation and established official relations. Chaigneau, the WFH vice-president at the time, along with Soulier, Z.S. Hantchef, MD (Switzerland), and Francois Josso, MD (France), were instrumental in achieving this recognition.

Hemophilia World, April 2013

1970s - Beginnings

1980s - Tragedy hits the hemophilia community

1990s - A decade of change

2000s - Closing the gap