Task Force at 40: DC Congressional Reception Celebrates Task Force’s 40 Years of Impact

2024 marks The Task Force’s 40th anniversary! Throughout this year our Dispatches newsletter will shine a spotlight on people, partners and programs who have contributed to 40 years of impact. In this issue we highlight our April 16 Congressional reception where more than 60 partners, including WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros, policymakers, agency staff, private sector and others gathered to celebrate. 

This month on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, key Task Force partners – including congressional, federal agency, multilateral, NGO, and private-sector partners  – gathered at the Senate Visitors Center to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Task Force. The April 16 reception, organized with the support of the office of Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock of Georgia, featured keynote remarks from World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who focused on the power of partnership in advancing global health equity.  

“WHO is a proud co-founder of the Task Force for Global Health, and remains a proud partner,” said Dr. Tedros, whose WHO headquarters office is in Geneva, Switzerland. “We have a long and shared history, dating back to the eradication of smallpox…and the leadership of [Task Force founder] Dr Bill Foege [who orchestrated the smallpox campaign].”

Dr. Tedros noted that since 2019 The Task Force has been in official relations with WHO, designated as a non-State actor, “a status given to organizations that have engaged substantially with WHO and made a significant contribution to public health. So I’m very pleased to be here to celebrate your 40th birthday with you.”  

Dr. Tedros shared his remarks on the WHO website.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus giving his remarks at Task Force's 40th anniversary congressional reception on April 16 in D.C. Photo credit: Emily Pelton for The Task Force for Global Health.

More than 60 guests included representatives from WHO, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Global Affairs, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the embassies of Egypt and Portugal, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DeBeaumont Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Merck & Co, Inc., Abbott, NGOs, and congressional offices advancing U.S. leadership in global health, including delegations from both Georgia senators (The Task Force headquarters office is in Decatur, GA, neighboring Atlanta).

Task Force CEO Dr. Patrick O’Carroll highlighted the critical role of partnership, as collaboration has always been central to the organization’s approach. He noted that The Task Force has worked with partners to accomplish the following global health successes:

  • Stewarding the donation of nearly 13 billion tablets to treat the neglected tropical diseases river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, and treating more than 300 million people for blinding trachoma, as the trusted partner of companies like Merck, Pfizer, and GSK—facilitating some of the oldest and most successful public-private partnerships in global health; 
  • Helping 40 low- and middle-income countries deploy COVID-19 vaccines at the peak of the pandemic, and working to ensure that countries have effective immunization and early-warning disease surveillance systems for future health emergencies
  • Equipping more than 20,000 field epidemiologists, or “disease detectives,” through training programs in more than 100 countries—who’ve responded to more than 14,000 disease outbreaks;
  • Supporting the last mile of polio eradication efforts, deploying surge capacity support within 72 hours of any new case detection;
  • Driving the elimination of viral hepatitis, in the U.S. and around the world
  • Leading operational research to address key challenges facing NTD control and elimination programs;

“We never stop looking for new partners who share our values and have their own expertise to contribute,” Dr. O’Carroll said “New friendships, new partnerships, and new perspectives are needed now more than ever. There are no strangers here, then—just partners we’ve yet to collaborate with.” 

This sentiment was echoed by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros.

“No single agency alone can meet the scale of health challenges we face globally,” he said. “We can only do so by leveraging our combined strength to support countries to meet their goals. In other words, we need each other. And we are more than the sum of our parts.”

The Task Force will be hosting other events with partners throughout the year.

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Image 1: Task Force CEO Dr. Patrick O’Carroll (left) and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (right). Photo credit: Emily Pelton for The Task Force for Global Health.

Image 2 and 3: Esteemed guests at the Task Force’s 40th anniversary congressional reception on April 16 in D.C. Photo credit: Emily Pelton for The Task Force for Global Health.

Image 4: From left to right: Task Force CEO Dr. Patrick O’Carroll, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Task Force’s Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination Director Dr. John Ward, and former Task Force CEO Dr. Dave Ross. Photo credit: Emily Pelton for The Task Force for Global Health.

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