Our story

The International Hospital Federation is a global not-for-profit, non-governmental, membership organization.

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How it started

June 1929 in Atlantic City, USA…

Representatives of the world’s hospital and health systems gathered for the first ever International Hospital Congress. Following a successful congress, the International Hospital Association was born to continue the group’s ambition – learning from each other to improve health service delivery.

After the Second World War, the organization was renamed the International Hospital Federation in 1947.

In 2011, the IHF’s Governing Council took the strategic decision to move the headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland, to strengthen relations with other global institutions and NGOs.

Old Picture
Old Picture
Old Picture
Old Picture
Old Picture
international hospital congress 1929
international hospital congress 1929
international hospital congress 1929
international hospital congress 1929
international hospital congress 1929
international hospital congress 1929
international hospital congress 1929
international hospital congress 1929

1929

Representatives of the world's hospital and health systems gathered for the first ever International Hospital Congress. Following a successful congress, the International Hospital Association was born.

1947

After the Second World War, the organization was renamed to the International Hospital Federation in 1947.

1948

As early as 1948, the IHF entered into “official relations” with the World Health Organization and, since then, the two organizations have worked closely together on studies, projects, and public health seminars.

1950

The first international study tours, organized independently of the World Hospital Congress, took place in 1950. This was also the year that the first News Bulletin was shared with all IHF members in both English and French.

1966

Regional conferences were introduced in 1966, beginning in Europe, with others following in Manila, Mexico City, Dubai, Seoul, Bogota, and Nairobi.

1978

Special study visits started in 1978, focusing on specific subjects, such as volunteers in mental health, planning district health services, quality assurance, child health services, and primary care.

1985

In 1985 the IHF Secretariat introduced computers to the office for the first time, massively reducing team time on congress registrations and preparation.

2011

The IHF’s Governing Council took the strategic decision to move the headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland, to strengthen relations with other global institutions and NGOs.

2015

The IHF Awards were launched in 2015 and are recognized around the world as the premier awards programme to honour hospitals and healthcare organizations.

2019

The final edition of the IHF's World Hospitals and Health Services journal was published, The whole collection was archived.

2022

The Geneva Sustainability Centre was established to support healthcare leaders around the world to develop and implement sustainability strategies.

2022

The IHF Statement on Sustainability was approved by the General Assembly: a call to action to address climate change as an integral part of healthcare delivery.

2023

The inaugural i-to-i Innovation Hub was launched at the 46th World Hospital Congress, showcasing unique products, processes, or services that address specific challenges in healthcare settings.

What we do

Connect internationally

We provide our members with a platform for knowledge exchange and networking with different actors in the health sector. Motivated by a shared commitment to well-managed hospitals, our members act together to improve the standard, quality, and level of healthcare service delivery.

Knowledge exchange

Connect at the annual World Hospital Congress, virtual events, and study tours. Special interest groups focus on the key issues for today’s hospital managers. Annual IHF Awards recognize and share good practice.

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Leadership development

Dedicated groups for association leaders, and women in leadership, a development programme for young executives, and a leadership competencies framework.

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Outreach and partnerships

Advocacy and international collaborations help us to carry out our work more effectively and find creative solutions to support our members facing a variety of challenges.

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Geneva Sustainability Centre

Driving net zero, climate resilient, and sustainable health systems: supporting hospitals to become leaders for sustainability in their communities.

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Well-managed hospitals improve health outcomes for everyone, everywhere.

icon- Our vision

Our vision

Our vision is a world of healthy communities served by well-managed hospitals and healthcare services, where individuals can reach their highest potential for health.

icon- Our mission

Our mission

We connect healthcare leaders through international knowledge exchange and showcasing good practices. We support these leaders to excel with training and development. Through our members, we are the voice of hospitals on the global stage.

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Our strategy

The IHF Strategic Plan 2023–2025 will guide the work of the IHF towards increased satisfaction of its members and a stronger voice for hospitals on the global stage ahead of the organization’s 100th anniversary.

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2023 members' survey

• 88% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed that the IHF is the voice of hospitals on the global stage.
• 91% agree or strongly agree that being a member of the IHF is valuable to their organization.
• In a ranking of our offerings, the top 3 activities are the World Hospital Congress, knowledge-sharing events, and the YEL programme.
• 84% were likely or very likely to participate in IHF activities this year.

Activity reports

Activity Report 2023

Activity reports summarize our activities, projects, and events as well as outcomes from our collaboration with other international organizations and NGOs.

The IHF Activity Report 2023 celebrates the IHF’s successes, including exploring the advantages of innovations such as virtual care in the home and renewing our focus on essential leadership skills using the IHF Leadership Framework. We also came together in Lisbon to foster knowledge exchange with executives from over 90 countries and we implemented the educational resources of the Geneva Sustainability Centre within our organizations.

These achievements were guided by our mission: healthy communities served by well-managed hospitals and healthcare services, where individuals can reach their highest potential for health.

News and insights

Look into our latest...

World Health Day 2024

A call for equitable healthcare in the Western Pacific 7 April is World Health Day, and the theme for 2024...

Sharing the benefits and building capacity for sustainable healthcare in the US

With a growing body of research demonstrating both cost savings and enhanced employee engagement, leadership interest in environmental sustainability continues...

Geneva Sustainability Centre Activity Report 2023

Reflecting on two years of impact: Geneva Sustainability Centre Annual Report 2023 As the Geneva Sustainability Centre will soon celebrate...

IHF Activity Report 2023

The IHF Activity Report 2023 celebrates the IHF’s successes, including exploring the advantages of innovations such as virtual care in...