Patrick O’Carroll, MD, MPH
President & CEO
From the bubonic plague in 14th century Europe and Asia to the 1918 influenza outbreak to the COVID pandemic, societies have used a variety of tools to protect people from diseases and to heal those who become ill.
The world now stands at a juncture, with the losses and lessons of COVID still fresh and an eye toward a more equitable future. What have we learned? What’s around the corner? What new discoveries will improve lives for future generations? Whether you are 10 or 100, this global health gallery provides some answers and introduces you to people who are leading the way.
We welcome you inside.
History Repeating or Teaching?1 of 3
A Glimpse of the Future: Next Generation Tools & Breakthroughs2 of 3
Pandemic Lessons & Where We Go from Here3 of 3
Providing technical expertise to global policymaking efforts at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) was a priority this year. As a non-State actor in official relations with WHO, and with Special Consultative Status at the UN, The Task Force shared experiences and solutions for pandemic preparedness and response, the public health workforce, and vaccine-preventable diseases. We advocated with partners for the importance of strong and sustained national public health systems, including field epidemiologists and vaccine-delivery programs.1 of 1
The Task Force continues to focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) initiatives. DEIB activities in FY 22 included clarifying and strengthening processes for career pathways, creating mentorship opportunities, improving hiring and onboarding practices, hosting open forums for staff to share their experiences to foster a culture of belonging, offering DEIB-related trainings to staff to increase awareness and growth, and engaging in reviews of TFGH policies and practices to promote equity. The Task Force’s Employee Resource Group CODE (Council for Opportunity, Diversity and Equity) contributed to several of these activities. To hear a variety of staff perspectives on what it’s like to work at The Task Force, check out our video series “This is My Story.”1 of 1
Hover over the shaded countries on the map below for information about our programs.
To sort the map by programs or sectors, click on the filters to the right, just above the map.
The Task Force for Global Health, based in Atlanta and founded nearly 40 years ago to advance health equity, has 17 programs that work with partners in more than 150 countries to eliminate diseases, ensure access to vaccines and essential medicines, and strengthen health systems to protect populations.
President & CEO
Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer
Chief External Relations Officer
Director, Center for Vaccine Equity
Director of Human Resources
Chief Business Strategy Officer
Retired SVP of Labor & Relations, UPS
Former Chairman, Atlantic Capital Bank
Chief Marketing Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Senior Medical Director, Syneos Health
Chief Executive Officer & Director, Evidation Health
Real Estate Development
Retired President, Robert W. Woodruff Foundation
Professor, Emory University School of Medicine
President & CEO
Partner, Ernst & Young
To see detailed financial information, click on the arrows below the graphs.
Asian Liver Center/Stanford University
Bayer US LLC
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bruyere Research Institute
Cadila Health Care
Center for Compassionate Leadership
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Central Lab Services
Christian Blind Mission
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
de Beaumont Foundation
Department of International Development (UK)
Eagle Medical Services
Georgia Department of Public Health
Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach
International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations
International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations
John Martin Foundation
Johnson & Johnson
Kay Family Foundation
Lever for Change
Merck & Co Inc
Merck Sharp & Dohme
Ministry of Health-National Public Health Institute
National Association of Chronic Diseases
National Health Institute
PayPal Giving Fund
ROCHE Molecular System
Sasakawa Health Foundation
The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE)
The Fetzer Institute
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
U.S. Department of State
University of Nebraska Medical Center
US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Wellcome Trust Limited
World Health Organization (WHO)
Kent and Diane Alexander
Jack and Anna Cantlin
Brennan and Cianciolo Family Fund
Debby and Tim Coleman
Walter M. Deriso
Joseph and Leighton Feczko Family Fund
Timothy and Janice Long Charitable Fund
Charles and Marcy McTier
Sharon M. Tsai
William J. Wolfe
This annual report was designed by Priya Palani and written by Lynn Heinisch, Andi Kezh, India Maul and Sumon Ray, with project management support from Cee Williams and technical support from New Tricks Web Design.
Sometimes we forget how much progress the world has made. In the last 70 years, global life expectancy jumped from roughly 45 years to 73. The percentage of children dying before they turned five dropped from 19 to 4 percent between 1960 and 2017. Many factors contributed to this success, including scientific and medical breakthroughs, dedicated health workers, and families and communities joining forces so all people could access services. From parents to teachers to religious and civic leaders to doctors and community health workers, there are countless unsung heroes who believe that everyone has the right to health and the right to achieve their full potential.
For example, in 1980, after a targeted campaign led by Task Force co-founder Dr. Bill Foege, smallpox was eradicated – the only infectious human disease to date. Then from 1984-1990, Task Force partners collaborated to raise global childhood immunization rates from 20 to 80 percent, preventing an estimated three million child deaths every year. Likewise, in the 1950s, polio paralyzed or killed more than half a million people every year. After a global push to ensure that all people could be vaccinated, those numbers dropped 99 percent. By 2021, just 15,000 people contracted polio, primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan where conflict and other challenges have made it difficult to reach people.
That’s the good news. But pandemic-related disruptions, along with fears and uncertainty, have rolled back some of this progress. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF reported in July 2022 that 25 million children missed their vaccinations in 2021, nearly 6 million more than just two years earlier and the highest number of children unprotected since 2009. UNICEF called this a “red alert for child health” whose consequences would be measured in lives.
Some of this was due to overwhelmed health systems, but it also resulted from distrust of medical treatment, poor communication, and stigma and misinformation about diseases. These are long-standing public health challenges that have been around for centuries but have been compounded in this era of social media, which can quickly spread information, both accurate and false.
Several Task Force programs are working on this issue. This year, Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization, worked with 12 immunization coalitions to provide training and answer vaccine questions, reaching families, advocates and public health workers. The Polio Eradication Center has worked with partners in Africa and Asia to help vaccinate 46 million children in 15 countries since 2019.
The Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy partnered with 11 national programs to develop country-led customized strategies that address local needs and priorities to end leprosy. And the Health Campaign Effectiveness Program funded 18 locally-based institutions to conduct research on health campaigns targeting five diseases to inform effective and equitable use of campaigns and routine health services.
With our partners in more than 150 countries, The Task Force is working to restore and build on the hard-won gains of the last five decades so that all people, today and tomorrow, have the opportunity for a long and healthy life.
Top photo credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images for the International Trachoma Initiative
Three scientists won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovery of the hepatitis C virus, a finding that has paved the way to eliminate the blood-borne disease that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer. “We truly are at a miraculous moment that rarely occurs in the history of medicine and public health, when you have large scientific breakthroughs that create opportunities to eliminate disease,” said Dr. John Ward, Director of The Task Force’s Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination.
Following their discovery, the Nobel scientists endorsed the Coalition’s idea of forming a “U.N. Group of Friends” with more than 20 countries to advance efforts to achieve the World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal of reducing new viral hepatitis infections by 90% by 2030.
Other diseases are targeted for elimination milestones by 2030, with several Task Force programs playing a key role. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as blinding trachoma, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) have decreased significantly in recent decades. This is due largely to treatment with donated medicines that Task Force programs and our many partners deliver to the communities that need them. The International Trachoma Initiative, for example, has supported the treatment of 300 million people to prevent blinding trachoma. And the Mectizan Donation Program has helped countries reach 400 million people annually to protect them from onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis.
Infections due to intestinal worms (soil-transmitted helminths) have also dropped significantly. With this decline, countries are beginning to use geostatistical predictive modeling to better allocate donated medicines to those who remain most at risk. The Task Force’s Children Without Worms program is supporting this work in countries like Bangladesh and Uganda. The success of these NTD programs stems from close partnerships with health leaders, donors, governments, NGO allies and communities to build strong health systems.
Effective diagnostics are essential for eliminating diseases and the NTD community is pursuing breakthroughs with these tools that could be piloted as early as 2023. The Task Force’s Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center is helping inform WHO guidance on how to identify and test people who are both the hardest-to-reach and most-at-risk for NTDs and, with support from USAID, is informing development of more sensitive tests to serve those communities.
Just as this might be the decade that the so-called “neglected” diseases finally get the attention and investment needed to end them, it also promises to be a time of continued advancement in vaccines. The world witnessed an unprecedented leap in vaccine development during the last three years.
Historically, it took 10 or more years to develop a vaccine. Given the urgency (and the ability to use previously researched vaccine technology), the COVID vaccine was developed in less than one year. The Task Force’s Brighton Collaboration, which provides harmonized vaccine safety guidelines for developers, is exploring the feasibility of further reducing development time for future vaccines to just three months, while still meeting the highest standards of vaccine safety.
“Medical technology changes over time, so we constantly need to review, update and evaluate case definitions for side effects that may result from vaccines, in order to improve vaccines so that the risks are mitigated,” said Dr. Robert Chen, Director of the Brighton Collaboration, the world’s only program dedicated solely to advancing the science of vaccine safety.
Another outcome of the pandemic is that several combined COVID/Influenza vaccines are in development and could be available in the next few years. Two Task Force programs have been helping more than 50 low- and middle-income countries with vaccination efforts (the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction and the COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Program) and will support countries’ policies and programs to use these future combination vaccines.
In all these cases, it’s not only the scientific know-how but the collaboration with partners and understanding of community needs that enable real breakthroughs with lasting effects.
Top photo credit: Chelsea Toledo/The Task Force for Global Health for NTD-SC
Gallery photo credit: Paul Emerson for The Task Force for Global Health for the International Trachoma Initiative
The world will never know exactly how many people died because of the pandemic. Current estimates range from nearly 7 million to more than 15 million, numbers so staggering they’re hard to comprehend. The losses include not only deaths of beloved family and friends but impacts on education, livelihoods, and mental, physical and social health that will only be understood years from now.
With all this loss came hard-earned lessons for both the general public and the public health community. People in all parts of the globe learned how interconnected we are. An infectious disease anywhere is a threat everywhere in our collective “home.” This knowledge provides an opportunity to develop greater collaboration across borders and with teams working on human health, animal health and environmental health.
The Task Force’s program for field epidemiologists in more than 100 countries, TEPHINET (Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network), saw this with its experts working in communities to trace, respond to and prevent outbreaks. In Mozambique, for example, a Brazilian-trained epidemiologist used her experience and the countries’ shared Portuguese language to train the pandemic response team there.
Another TEPHINET epidemiologist led a successful response to a rabies outbreak in a camp for displaced people in northern Mozambique, which drew upon veterinary skills, the country’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“This whole operation is a practice in One Health,” said Tatenda Mutenga, Deputy Head of Office for FAO in Pemba, Mozambique. “This is the first time that these sectors have really come together on a collaborative intervention towards the control of rabies, and it is scalable.” While no country was fully prepared for the pandemic, the world saw a great divide between those whose health systems were equipped to respond and those whose systems weren’t. Countries with the practice of providing annual flu vaccines to adults were able to draw upon existing supply chains, trained health workers and communications strategies to deliver COVID vaccines.
Mongolia, for example, tapped its strong influenza vaccination program, which was built in collaboration with The Task Force’s Partnership in Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI), to quickly vaccinate its people. The PIVI program served as a model for The Task Force’s COVID Vaccine Introduction Program (CoVIP) which currently supports more than 50 low- and middle-income countries deploy and evaluate COVID vaccines.
Other Task Force programs are helping countries strengthen health systems to prevent and respond to future outbreaks. For example, the Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII) is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help health departments improve their data systems.
The pandemic not only exposed gaps and inequities, but also shifted certain long-standing practices, for example, the approach to donated medical equipment and supplies. The Task Force’s MedSurplus Alliance members expanded their international donation programs to include providing medical products to clinical settings in the United States. At the same time, due to social distancing and workforce changes from the pandemic, there were fewer volunteers and staff to support sorting, packing and shipping supplies.
Global health organizations like The Task Force see many opportunities to apply the lessons of the pandemic. Our Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics (FACE) is working with health care providers to promote compassion in our health care systems, reaching more than 1,000 workers with these services in the last year. This will benefit both patients and health care workers, reduce burnout, and increase resilience for those in the profession.
Given the terrible toll of the pandemic, we have not only the opportunity but a responsibility to honor the people we’ve lost by learning from this experience to protect future generations.
Top photo credit: Leeshia Crayton for the International Trachoma Initiative
Even before he co-founded The Task Force in 1984, Dr. Foege had accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime. The CDC Director (1977-1983) developed the strategy that eradicated smallpox (by 1980). In its first six years, The Task Force partnership increased the percentage of children receiving at least one vaccine from 20% to 80%, preventing an estimated three million child deaths every year. Dr. Foege served as CEO until 2000.
Public health work is like a love letter to people who have not been born yet, saying ‘We already love you.’
MDP will leave behind a legacy thanks to Merck’s introduction 35 years ago of “pharmaco-philanthropy,” which mobilized public-private partnerships to fight Neglected Tropical Diseases.
When Ms. Vásquez Acevedo and her adult son were diagnosed with Hansen’s disease (commonly known as leprosy) they had to grapple with fear and shame and 12 months of treatment, which was successful. Little did she know she would one day work nonstop to support others in the same situation. She now serves as the president of Felehansen, an organization of persons affected by Hansen’s disease in Colombia, working to end discriminatory laws and strengthen the Hansen’s disease community, and to showcase what affected people can do for their communities.
I want people to know about the resilience of persons affected by Hansen’s disease. Today I carry a light of hope without fear or stigma. I know I must continue forward for people who are waiting for a helping hand. Today I can say that leprosy should be a thing of the past. I continue fighting to see that it is eliminated.
Mona Naji Al Ahdab had long worked as a midwife in Yemen, a country where nearly 18 million people lacked access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in late 2022. She then joined a cohort to be trained through the Public Health Empowerment Program, known as Tamkeen, where she learned about disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, data analysis and interpretation. During the training, she went into labor and later delivered a son. She named him Tamkeen and went on to work as a surveillance officer, contributing to many outbreak investigations and immunization campaigns. For her contributions, the Yemen Field Epidemiology Training Program honored her as a model mother and a woman in the workforce.
Realizing my dream to work in public health and becoming a surveillance officer was not easy. My community was resistant to the idea of having me as a public health worker and circulated various rumors. But I earned their respect and built trust-based relationships. Working through those hardships and gaining their trust and respect put me in a unique position to have open conversations. That access to knowledge and information makes people like me essential to building strong and resilient health systems.
Surgeon Mohammad Ali performed the first successful liver transplant in Bangladesh in June 2010. Years earlier, he’d founded the National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh to prevent, treat and conduct research on liver disease. In 2022, he supported the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination to develop a National Hepatitis Elimination Profile for the country. His 30+ years of commitment stems from a passion to serve underserved communities and find, test, and treat persons living with viral hepatitis, including Rohingya refugees.
Before she was a vaccine advocate Heather Simpson was a vocal critic of them, even posting a Halloween social media picture dressed as measles and claiming the disease wasn’t scary. In early 2020, a series of events, including the start of the pandemic, changed her perspective. Today she and another former anti-vax mom produce a podcast and website called “Back To The Vax” to inform and support others with “a guide to inoculate yourself against anti-vax propaganda.”
Ultimately, what finally changed my mind was having people reach out, listen to my fears, and talk to me. When friends showed they cared more about me than about changing my mind, things started seeming less scary and making more sense. I used to think people promoting vaccines were doing it for the money, and now that I’m in the scientific community, I realize that it’s not the money. It’s 100% the passion that everyone has for this topic that keeps myself and those around me going, even when we face adversity from the anti-vax side.