William H. Foege, MD, MPH is the Emeritus Presidential Distinguished Professor of International Health at Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University and the Gates Fellow at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is an epidemiologist who worked in the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. Dr. Foege became Chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Smallpox Eradication Program, and was appointed director of CDC in 1977.
In 1984, Foege and several colleagues formed the Task Force for Child Survival and Development, a working group for the World Health Organization, UNICEF, The World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Its success in accelerating childhood immunization led to an expansion of its mandate in 1991 to include other issues that diminish the quality of life for children.
Dr. Foege joined The Carter Center in 1986 as its Executive Director, Fellow for Health Policy and Executive Director of Global 2000. In 1992, he resigned as Executive Director of The Carter Center, but continued in his role as a Fellow and as Executive Director of the Task Force for Child Survival and Development. In 1997, he joined the faculty of Emory University, where he is Presidential Distinguished Professor of International Health at the Rollins School of Public Health. In 1999, Dr. Foege became a Senior Medical Advisor for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 1999, Dr. Foege resigned as Executive Director of the Task Force for Child Survival and Development, and in 2001, he retired from both Emory University and the Gates Foundation. However, he remains active in both organizations as Emeritus Presidential Distinguished Professor of International Health and as a Gates Fellow.
Dr. Foege has championed many issues, but child survival and development, injury prevention, population, preventive medicine, and public health leadership are of special interest, particularly in the developing world. He is a strong proponent of disease eradication and control, and has taken an active role in the eradication of guinea worm, polio and measles, and the elimination of river blindness. By writing and lecturing extensively, Dr. Foege has succeeded in broadening public awareness of these issues and bringing them to the forefront of domestic and international health policies.
Dr. Foege is the recipient of many awards, holds honorary degrees from numerous institutions, and was named a Fellow of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1997. He is the author of more than 125 professional publications. He attended Pacific Lutheran University, received his medical degree from the University of Washington, and his Master of Public Health from Harvard University.
In this conversation Dr. Foege shares his philosophy of public health todays based on decades of his rich, diverse and all-encompassing experience. He talks about challenges, domestically and internationally, of structure, reimbursement and ethics of public health, as well as his personal experience working in many internationally renowned public health organizations he was and is a part of. This is part 1 of a 2-part conversation that we will continue next week.