A milestone in global health

James Curran, William Foege and Mark Rosenberg

Above left: James Curran (left) and William Foege view an exhibit on the Task Force for Global Health. Above right: Mark Rosenberg serves on the RSPH faculty.

William Foege knows how to build coalitions.


In Brief

Passing the torch

Center targets cardiometabolic diseases

Healthy growth spurt

The renowned epidemiologist finessed the art of bringing people together by working in West Africa to eradicate smallpox, strengthening U.S. public health efforts as CDC director, and promoting peace and health globally as executive director of The Carter Center.

In 1984, he co-founded the Task Force for Child Survival by rallying WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the UN Development Program as partners to increase the childhood vaccination rate worldwide from 20% to 80%. The partners met their goal ahead of schedule, proving that a coalition could achieve what no single organization could on its own.

Foege, RSPH Presidential Distinguished Professor Emeritus, was among those who gathered at Task Force headquarters last spring to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary. Now directed by RSPH adjunct professor Mark Rosenberg, Task Force programs help eradicate polio, strengthen public policy to improve road safety worldwide, develop public health information systems, train child care providers in parenting skills and child development, and protect communities from neglected tropical diseases such as river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, and trachoma.

During the past year, the Task Force moved its 50-plus staff members into a permanent home in Decatur, Georgia, and changed its name to the Task Force for Global Health. Two established international programs—the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network and the International Trachoma Initiative—joined the organization, bringing the total number of programs to 10. It also secured a commitment from Pfizer to donate more than $1 billion worth of the drug Zithromax to help eliminate trachoma worldwide.

"Our growth, in part, is due to our ability to bring organizations and programs together under one roof and generate discussion and collaboration that save lives and change health policy," says Rosenberg.

True to its mission, the Task Force works closely with the private sector, international organizations, and local partners such as the CDC, CARE, The Carter Center, and Emory. Since 2007, four fellows and 20 interns from the RSPH have worked with the Task Force. Dean James Curran serves on its board of directors. Rosenberg and other Task Force staff teach as adjunct faculty at Rollins.

"Dean Curran’s participation on our board helps us link with student interns, faculty interested in participating in our work, and other joint initiatives," says Rosenberg. "With every program, and through our partnerships in global health, the Task Force increases the depth and breadth of its outreach to those in need."

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