Bill Foege: Another mountain to climb pg. 2
“That’s not laboratory science,” Schaffner continues, “but that conceptual innovation led to the eradication of one of the greatest plagues that mankind has every known. That’s public health.”
Foege realizes that if he’d had to survive on the average Nigerian’s income—less than a dollar a day—he would have spent his money on food instead of vaccinations and mosquito nets.
It’s this knowledge—27 years after smallpox was eradicated from the Earth—that keeps him focused on improving public health worldwide. He can’t get away from it.
“He has a tremendous sense of compassion and humanity, and his vision is based on intellect and experience and his understanding where things fit,” says another longtime colleague, James Curran, M.D., MPH, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and former director of CDC’s AIDS Task Force.
“He has a tireless commitment of improving public health of underserved,” Curran says. “He is one of the very top public health leaders in the world over our lifetime.”
Drawn to Africa
These days Foege, 70, is a senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
He is a member of the scientific board that helped design and implement the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, funded largely by the Gates Foundation.
The initiative is exciting, he says, because it gives scientists the freedom to explore areas that traditionally haven’t gotten a lot of funding. “It has the research community looking at global health,” he says.