Decatur, GA, Oct. 17 – The Task Force for Global Health is the fourth most successful fund-raiser from private sources in the United States, according to a just-released ranking by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The Decatur, Georgia-based Task Force receives nearly 98 percent of its contributions in the form of pharmaceuticals that are used world-wide to treat and, wherever possible, eliminate diseases that afflict and cripple communities. The Task Force facilitates applications for and distribution of the medicine, primarily in developing countries.
“Medicine and technical support are key for addressing global health challenges in developing countries,” said Task Force President and Chief Executive Officer Mark L. Rosenberg, MD MPP. “The Task Force adds value to the contributions by building coalitions to distribute the drug donations, doing operational research for diseases such as lymphatic filariasis, building collaborative data systems and training others in public health informatics, field epidemiology and immunizations.”
The mission of the Task Force for Global Health is to reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable and neglected tropical diseases and to strengthen health delivery systems by forging partnerships and applying innovative solutions to global health problems. Task Force Chair Jane Thorpe, a partner at Alston and Bird, said the Chronicle ranking demonstrated the Task Force’s capability to provide hundreds of millions of treatments of diseases such as intestinal worms, blinding trachoma, river blindness, and lymphatic filariasis or elephantiasis. “We are grateful to all of our donor partners for their generosity in helping to relieve suffering in the most vulnerable populations,” she said.
The Task Force was founded in 1983 by William Foege, MD MPH, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control, to coordinate efforts of the many entities addressing childhood immunization. The success of this collaboration led to additional cross-sector partnerships. Today, the Task Force has nearly 70 employees and works in 91 countries. In addition to its headquarters building, currently being expanded on Swanton Way in downtown Decatur, the organization has offices in Guatemala, Pakistan, and Ethiopia and will add an office in Colombia by the end of this year.
Last year, Task Force partners Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Pfizer Inc. donated collectively approximately 300 million doses of medicine. The in-kind donations are in addition to funding from foundations, companies and individuals for technical support to train health workers and strengthen health systems. The Task Force works with partners such as the CDC, World Health Organization, ministries of health, and not-for-profits in the U.S. and abroad.
“The 1.14 billion that the Task Force received during fiscal 2010 from the private sector speaks to the extraordinary philanthropic commitment of our partners and to the value they place on collaboration to improve global health,” Rosenberg said.
The Task Force receives additional funding from government for contracts to train public health officials and other uses.
“It’s important to note that, since the vast majority of our gifts are in-kind, cash donations continue to be very important to our ongoing operations, which are quite efficient in the model established by Dr. Foege,” Rosenberg said.
The placement of the Task Force, an affiliate of Emory University, and other organizations on the Chronicle’s Philanthropy 400 illustrates the growth of the global health sector in Georgia. Other Georgia-based health- or health research-related organizations on the list include The American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, CARE, The Carter Center, Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, MAP International and University of Georgia. Georgia is also home to the CDC, which serves as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and health education activities.
“The base of Georgia organizations in the global health arena has expanded enormously over the past decade,” Rosenberg said. “In addition to the obvious benefit to humankind, there is tremendous impact on, and potential for, economic development in the state. With our research universities, health-focused businesses and not-for-profits, Georgia has arguably the broadest global health industry in the nation.”