Task Force for Global Health Welcomes “Becoming Better Ancestors: 9 Lessons to Change The World”

The Task Force for Global Health is delighted to become the official home of “Becoming Better Ancestors: 9 Lessons to Change The World,” a free virtual learning series documenting the history and nine key lessons learned from the campaign to eradicate smallpox, the only human disease ever wiped off the face of our planet.

“Becoming Better Ancestors” features interviews with global health leaders and changemakers and was developed by the renowned Drs. Bill Foege, Task Force co-founder and first CEO (1984-2000), and Mark Rosenberg, second Task Force CEO (2000-2016).

The Becoming Better Ancestors program draws upon lessons from the smallpox eradication effort led by Dr. Foege in the 1960s and 70s to provide a framework for tackling global health challenges to ensure that future generations benefit from the lessons of the past. The series  features eminent personalities, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Ms. Melinda French Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, and Dr. Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis, to convey a message of hope, resilience and proactive intervention to save and improve lives.

“Pandemics and disease do not discriminate,” said Dr. Foege. “Becoming Better Ancestors: 9 Lessons to Change the World is an effective, plausible, and tested framework that offers the best path to solve and eradicate global health concerns, so everyone has the opportunity to live long and healthy lives.”

9 Lessons to Change The World

Becoming Better Ancestors stands as a monument to the triumphant eradication of smallpox, with compelling stories about how this was achieved – and also showcases how the accumulated wisdom can be applied to contemporary health threats such as COVID-19 and far-reaching societal issues, including climate change, structural racism, and more, as well as to foster global health equity and help us confront future health crises. 

“Bill Foege has done more to advance global health equity than just about anyone,” said Task Force President and CEO Dr. Patrick O’Carroll. “We believe deeply in the 9 Lessons he has captured from a lifetime of protecting lives and are honored to help continue to spread his wisdom and his vision of a world free of suffering, where everyone can achieve their full potential.”

Becoming Better Ancestors was developed with support from Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Exemplars in Global Health, Ford Foundation, Skoll Foundation, The Carter Center, Lexicon Strategies, The Task Force for Global Health, The Rockefeller Foundation and the CDC Foundation, which also provided a special grant to bring the initiative to The Task Force.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was the first and largest funder of the Becoming Better Ancestors project and it was their early commitment that made the series possible. 

“Bill Foege and Mark Rosenberg made important contributions to the Hilton Foundation through their work on our Board of Directors and the Hilton Humanitarian Prize Jury,” said Peter Laugharn, President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “We believe in the importance of this project and are delighted it will be housed at The Task Force for Global Health, which won the Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2016. With its commitment to collaborating with others to solve complex global health challenges, The Task Force is a perfect partner for disseminating and spreading these lessons around the world”.  

One of the valuable assets of the program is a Harvard Business School-style teaching case study, produced in partnership with the Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard. The case study addresses the last mile delivery strategies used in the eradication of smallpox in India and allows a deeper look at the nine  lessons. This case, and its accompanying teaching note, is one of 45+ teaching cases in the Cases in Global Health Delivery collection that is used to train thousands of future global health leaders around the world each year. It is available on both 9Lessons.org and globalhealthdelivery.org. 

To learn more about “Becoming Better Ancestors: 9 Lessons to Change The World” and access its content, visit 9Lessons.org, where the complete virtual learning series and curriculum is available free of charge in English, Spanish and French.

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