Gates Foundation and Rotary International Accept First Bill Foege Global Health Awards
Photo Above: Bob Hope, Founder Hope-Beckham, Dr. Bill Foege, Steve Stirling, MAP International, Jeff Rosensweig, Director of the Global Perspectives Program at Goizueta Business School of Emory University, Ambassador Andrew Young, and John Germ, President, Rotary International
More than 400 leaders and advocates came together Sunday evening, June 11, in Atlanta to recognize the accomplishments of Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as the inaugural recipients of the Bill Foege Global Health Awards, established by MAP International.
MAP International established the award to recognize people and organizations whose contributions to global health progress measure substantially. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International were recognized for their work in eradicating polio.
Dr. Bill Foege and Ambassador Andrew Young established the tone and tenor of the award ceremony by recognizing the extraordinary progress made in recent years to eradicate both small pox and polio.
Citing the examples of the 2017 Bill Foege Global Health Award recipients, Ambassador Young told the gathering that what mattered most in these eradication efforts was not the availability of government or corporate funding, but the willingness to accomplish so much for humanity. “With Rotary, Bill Gates, Bill Foege and those of you here tonight, this is testament that there is never a shortage of spirit to do good,” Ambassador Young said. “And, it is that spirit that makes eradication of polio and other disease possible.”
Dr. Foege then stepped on stage to share what he saw as the challenges for global health progress. “We’ve had a major impact on disease and death in the last six decades. Polio is almost eliminated. Smallpox has not been seen in 30 years. Infant mortality rates have declined throughout the world. Diarrhea deaths are declining as the result of vaccines. And malaria deaths are going down because of bed nets and new approaches to treatment. In the US, lung cancer deaths, stroke and heart attack rates have fallen over the past 30 years. This is just a beginning,” said Dr. Foege.
Dr. Foege says the key to continuing along this path is the shared recognition of the need for global health equity. “Global health equity is the way we show we’re all a part of one family.” Dr. Foege said. He cited the example of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations stating in their their mission that all lives have equal value. “Global health equity is critical to maintaining progress in eradicating disease and eliminating poverty,” he said.
The inaugural Bill Foege Global Health Awards was made possible through the extraordinary sponsorship of Delta Air Lines, General Building Maintenance, Merck, UPS and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. “These organizations already contribute uniquely to the progress of global health. Their support for the Bill Foege Awards gives us the opportunity to lift our cause and the role the City of Atlanta plays in service to humanity,” said Mr. Steve Stirling, MAP International President and Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Stirling recognized each of the award recipients through his own experience as a survivor of polio. “Thank you for bringing us to the brink of eradicating polio from the planet. To imagine this achievement, happening in my lifetime, brings me to a place of immense respect and profound gratitude that no other generation of children will encounter the challenges I face,” Mr. Stirling said.
For 63 years, MAP International has contributed to global health progress by providing more than $6 billion in essential medicines and health supplies. This includes accomplishments such as orchestrating a successful education and engagement with pastors in the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS in East Africa, working in partnership toward the eradication of Guinea Worm in Cote d’Ivoire, preventing the spread of Ebola and treating its victims in West Africa, and leading numerous other interventions against neglected tropical diseases.
Dr. Bill Foege served on MAP International’s Board of Governors during the 1990s. All proceeds from the Bill Foege Global Health Awards support MAP International’s mission of providing medicine and health supplies to those in need.
Mr. Stirling closed the evening thanking sponsors and guests and announced that the second annual Bill Foege Global Health Awards will be held in June 2018.
Photo Credits: MAP International www.BenRosePhotography.com