Obituary Dr Alexandre Berlin, 28 September 1935 – 11 August 2022
The death of Dr Alexandre Berlin on 11 August 2022 Europe has lost a great advocate and protagonist for health. Dr Berlin had 35 years of work and service at the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission, including as the Director General of Health, and he had a profound influence on the development of the health dimensions of the European Union Acquis Communitaire which were developed under his leadership and management, as well as public health development across Europe more generally. He retired from the EC as an Honorary Director General in 2002.
Prior to working for the European Commission Dr Berlin had been a Professor of Physics with education and training at several very prestigious universities in the USA. Widely respected at the highest level internationally for his knowledge and experience, he was a polymath of immense culture, yet humble with a sense of humor, and gentle and supportive of all those with whom he came into contact. A famous polyglot, he was fluent in 7 languages and understanding two more.
Dr Berlin worked collaboratively with many organizations influential in health across Europe. For example, with the WHO European Regional Office he was involved in the preparation and organization of the two Environmental Health European Conferences in Helsinki in 1994 and then in London in 1999, strongly supporting the development of National Environmental Action Plans across the European Region.
After retirement he never stopped working and helping. Between 2002 and 2017 he worked hard to support the South-eastern Europe Health Network, opening the door of the European Commission to the Network through the EC TAIEX Programme. Learning lessons from this process the SEEHN established a major planning meeting with the leaders of the TAIEX Programme and were able to submit to the EC a proposed annotated list of future technical meetings approved by the EC and the SEEHN National Health Coordinators. In 2017 he withdrew with high recognition and honors from the SEEHN during the 4th Forum of the Ministries of Health.
He was also a founder and the Honorary President of a non-governmental organization, the International Health Partnership Association (IHPA) committed to strengthening public health across Europe, between 2014 -2020.
In retirement he was always travelling, to help, or meet his family. He loved art and he had rich knowledge about it. He was collecting good pieces of art from all over the world, which he displayed in his homes in Paris and Brussels. To friends he was very generous, providing hospitality and gifts of pieces of art.
Dr Alexandre Berlin was very devoted to his daughters and their kids. He visited his daughter Angela and her family often in Canada and enjoyed seeing his grandkids grow up. They always knew they could count on him. They miss his visits and his burned toast!
His daughter Olivia Berlin recalls:
“My relationship with my father was troubled while growing up, which led to major acting out in my teenage years. But when I look back, no matter what I did, he was always there for me. In the last few years of his life, I had the honor to be able care for him. Through this process, our relationship healed. I now remember him as a KIND man, always ready to help, anywhere he was in the world. I now think of him as well as of my mother, with a warm smile.
It is with deep love and a great sense of peace that I let him go.
Farewell and Bon Voyage, you who loved travelling ....”
Dr Berlin stayed sharp and active until the last years. He died peacefully in Sardinia, Italy, with his daughter, Olivia, at his side. He will be missed by many. He is survived by his family to whom he was devoted, including his daughters Olivia and Angela, his grandchildren, Catherine, Julia, Alberto and Sara and his great-grandchild, Jaxon.
To celebrate his life, it is hoped to make a compilation of Dr Berlin’s life. Please send any stories and pictures you may have to Angela Tancon (his daughter) at firstname.lastname@example.org, where these will be graciously received.
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