The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has awarded William H. Foege the 2007 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Award for Humanitarian Contributions to the Health of Humankind. Dr. Foege is a presidential distinguished scholar and professor emeritus in the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health. He also is a fellow with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Health Program. The Carter award will be presented at a dinner in Washington, D.C. on March 21, 2007.
Dr. Foege's lifelong commitment to improving worldwide public health and his courageous public health leadership in the areas of child survival and development and injury prevention are credited with saving millions of lives and vastly improving the quality of life for millions of others throughout the world, particularly in developing countries.
The Carter Humanitarian Award, established in 1997, honors those individuals whose outstanding humanitarian efforts and achievements have contributed significantly to improving the health of humankind. The award is named for President and Mrs. Carter, who, as outstanding humanitarians, have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for people worldwide.
Dr. Foege joins a distinguished group of past award recipients, including Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner, General Colin Powell, former President Bill Clinton, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, David Satcher, and former President and Mrs. Carter, among others.
"We are extremely proud to have Dr. Foege as a distinguished member of our faculty," said James Curran, MD, MPH, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health. "Dr. Foege's contributions to global health and to the survival and well-being of countless individuals are staggering in their significance."
Dr. Foege has been the recipient of many other awards, including the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service in Support of Medical Research and Health Sciences. The Lasker Award, a highly coveted prize often referred to as "America's Nobel" because of its importance to the biomedical research community, was presented to Dr. Foege in 2001 for his courageous leadership in improving worldwide public health and for his pivotal role in eradicating smallpox and preventing river blindness.
In 2002 the Gates Foundation established the William H. Foege Fellowships in Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health in honor of Dr. Foege's career and achievements. Supported by a $5 million endowment, the program brings four Foege Fellows per year from developing countries to study at Emory University for one to two years. The fellows are mid-career professionals who return to governmental or nongovernmental health agencies in their own countries after their residence in Atlanta, where they develop partnerships with mentors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Carter Center and CARE USA, and the Task Force for Child Survival and Development.
As director of the CDC from 1977 to 1983, Dr. Foege was recognized for a humanitarian vision that all people, regardless of economic status, nationality or age, should live long and healthy lives. He is credited for helping to unravel a number of challenging diseases and conditions, including toxic shock syndrome and Reyes syndromes, and was among public health leaders who issued early warnings about AIDS.
Dr. Foege received his MD from the University of Washington Medical School in 1961 and His MPH from Harvard University in 1965. He worked as a medical missionary in Eastern Nigeria, where he developed a surveillance and containment strategy that changed the worldwide approach to smallpox vaccination. This strategy eventually led to the disease's eradication in the 1970s under Dr. Foege's leadership as director of the Smallpox Eradication Program. He served as a medical officer for the World Health Organization in India, before joining the CDC.
From 1984 to 2000, Dr. Foege served as executive director of the Task Force for Chil d Survival and Development, which helped raise general immunization levels of the world's children from 20 percent to 80 percent in just six years and created a successful program to overcome river blindness. Dr. Foege served as president of the American Public Health Association and later served The Carter Center as executive director, fellow for health policy, and executive director of Global 2000, which dramatically improved farming practices, increased agricultural yields in developing countries and embarked on eradication of Guinea worm.
In 1997 Dr. Foege was appointed Presidential Distinguished Professor in the Rollins School of Public Health, and in 1999 he was appointed as senior medical advisor to the Gates Foundation. He has served as project director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "All Kids Count," and as a board member for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospital, and the Rockefeller Foundation.