Teaming up with UNICEF to improve people’s lives

- already in 1950

In January 2015, the Philips Foundation launched its partnership with humanitarian organization UNICEF to address global challenges, focusing on healthcare innovations for the first 1,000 days of children’s lives. Not many people may know that already in 1950, Philips teamed up with UNICEF to fight tuberculosis in Europe, particularly in Poland and France.

 

During the first half of the 20th century, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death in the United States and in many European countries, and no effective treatment was available yet. In the post-World War II years, Poland suffered from a big outbreak of tuberculosis, particularly amongst young people between 10 and 18 years, with the cities Lodz, Krakow, and Katowice as the main trouble spots.


The first 30 X-ray devices for Poland, lined up for delivery to UNICEF in March 1950. (photo: Philips Company Archives)

 

Mr. Cecil Ashwin, X-ray technical advisor of UNICEF, arrived in Poland in 1947 after having worked with mobile Philips X-ray devices in Greece just after World War II, under difficult circumstances, and with very limited resources. In 1950, he played a key role in setting up the connection between UNICEF and Philips – in order to be able to facilitate early diagnosis of tuberculosis in Poland, and to educate new Polish healthcare professionals, UNICEF placed an order for 140 ‘Metalix’ X-ray devices from Philips, the biggest order in UNICEF’s history.

 

 

In March 1950, Mr. Ashwin visited Philips in Eindhoven to receive the first batch of 30 X-ray devices, which were ready to be transported to Poland by train. "You've done a good job - this will serve the well-being of millions of people,” he said to reporters from the Philips Koerier, the Philips employee magazine at that time. In June 1950, another order came in from UNICEF for 50 additional X-ray devices, to be used in France for early screening of tuberculosis as well.

 

For more information on the Philips Foundation, please go to www.philips-foundation.com

 

Context in facts and figures:

  • A century ago, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death in the United States and in many European countries, and during the first half of the 20th century, no effective treatment was available.
  • In 1925, Philips introduced its ‘Metalix’ X-ray device, the first X-ray apparatus fully protected for high voltages and unwanted X-ray radiation.
  • Compact X-ray devices – such as the Philips ‘Metalix’ and its successor the ‘Rotalix’, launched in 1929 – were more and more taken into the community for early diagnosis of tuberculosis, in addition to static X-ray devices in clinics, hospitals, and sanatoriums.
  • After World War II, Poland suffered from a big outbreak of tuberculosis, particularly amongst young people between 10 and 18 years, with the cities Lodz, Krakow, and Katowice as the main trouble spots.
  • In 1947, Mr. Cecil Ashwin, X-ray technical advisor of UNICEF, arrived in Poland, after having worked with mobile Philips X-ray devices in Greece just after World War II.
  • In order to be able to facilitate early diagnosis of tuberculosis in Poland, and to educate new healthcare professionals, UNICEF placed an order for 140 ‘Metalix’ X-ray devices from Philips, the biggest order in UNICEF’s history.
  • In March 1950, Philips delivered the first 30 X-ray devices of the total number of 140 to UNICEF.
  • Mr. Ashwin came to Eindhoven to receive the devices officially – “You’ve done a good job - this will serve the well-being of millions of people.”
  • The devices were transported to Poland by train.
  • To celebrate the delivery, a special exhibition was organized in the company canteen at the Gagelstraat in Eindhoven for employees from the technical and sales departments involved.
  • In June 1950, another order came in from UNICEF for 50 additional X-ray devices, to be used in France for early diagnosis of tuberculosis as well.

 

 

Sources:

  • Philips Koerier, March 4, 1950
  • Philips Koerier, June 10, 1950

 

 

Photo material:

 

 

Manufacturing of the 140 X-ray devices for UNICEF in 1950 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
(photo: Philips Company Archives)

 

 


Meeting in March 1950 with (from left to right) Mr. Peters (Philips X-ray), Mr. Ackerstaff (Philips X-ray), Mr. Ashwin (UNICEF), and Mr. Wensing (Philips X-ray).
(photo: Philips Company Archives)

 

 

March 1950 – The Philips X-ray devices for UNICEF are being packed for transport by train to Poland.
(photo: Philips Company Archives)

 

 

 

March 1950 – The Philips X-ray devices for UNICEF are being packed for transport by train to Poland.
(photo: Philips Company Archives)

 

 

 

March 1950 – The Philips X-ray devices for UNICEF are being packed for transport by train to Poland.
(photo: Philips Company Archives)