Atlanta-based organization to receive largest humanitarian award in the world for its contributions to improving health of people living in extreme poverty.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced today that a distinguished panel of independent international jurors has selected The Task Force for Global Health (The Task Force), an Atlanta-based international organization dedicated to addressing large-scale health problems primarily affecting people living in extreme poverty, as this year’s recipient of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize—the world’s largest humanitarian prize.
The Task Force has been a pioneer in global health since its founding 32 years ago, and it currently reaches hundreds of millions of people in 151 countries through programs focusing on neglected tropical diseases, vaccines, field epidemiology, public health informatics, and health workforce development. The organization collaborates with partners in diverse sectors, including pharmaceutical companies and health agencies in other countries, on comprehensive disease control and elimination programs. Major funders include governments, foundations, and corporations.
“The Task Force is about compassion, collaboration, and smart solutions,” said Hilton Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Laugharn. “The organization and its partners roll up their sleeves and solve massive global health problems, and they do it without fanfare. This is an organization that, with its partners, is on track to help eliminate three diseases in the next decade. That is something we should all celebrate.”
The Task Force will receive $2 million in unrestricted funding and join 20 other distinguished nonprofit organizations that have received this Prize during the last two decades.
“We are deeply humbled and honored to receive the 2016 Hilton Humanitarian Prize, and to join the ranks of prestigious organizations that have helped alleviate human suffering,” said David, Ross, ScD, President and CEO of The Task Force. “We have long believed collaboration is essential to solving large-scale health problems. No one organization has the resources or expertise to address these issues. It is through our partnerships that we have been able to have an extraordinary collective impact.”
The Task Force was founded in 1984 by Dr. William H. Foege, a renowned epidemiologist and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director who is credited with developing the strategy that led to the eradication of smallpox. The Task Force originally focused on a single health issue—low childhood immunization rates in developing countries. By 1990, The Task Force had raised these rates from 20 to 80 percent worldwide. Since this early success, The Task Force has worked with hundreds of partners to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases and increase access to medicines and vaccines for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, polio, influenza, and cholera. Beginning with the Mectizan Donation Program, The Task Force is credited with working with the pharmaceutical industry to donate billions of dollars annually in essential medicines for the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases.
Collaboration, health equity, and social justice are the cornerstones of all Task Force programs. The organization is a major partner in the global effort to eliminate three neglected tropical diseases by 2025—blinding trachoma, river blindness, and lymphatic filariasis—which collectively threaten hundreds of millions of people each year with blindness, disfigurement, and even death.
The Task Force has begun examining how it might help address the growing epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which have eclipsed infectious diseases as the major causes of death for people in developing countries. Dr. Ross said that the organization’s expertise and experience in getting vaccines and essential medicines to developing countries may be useful in helping to address some aspect of NCDs. The Hilton Prize money will support the acquisition of a larger headquarters in Atlanta that will enable The Task Force to move into NCDs and meet the growth needs of its existing programs.
The Task Force and their achievements will be honored at this year’s international Humanitarian Symposium, sponsored by the Hilton Foundation, which will take place in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria on Sept. 30. The focus of the symposium will be on the future of humanitarian action, with speakers offering their visions of success in tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as the growing refugee crisis. Featured speakers include: Mary Robinson, president of the Mary Robinson Foundation—Climate Justice, former President of Ireland, and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; as well as Zainab Salbi, Iraqi-American author, women’s rights activist, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, and media commentator who is the founder and former CEO of Hilton Prize Laureate Women for Women International.
Each year, the Foundation reviews hundreds of nominations from notable nonprofits across the globe, and an independent, international panel of distinguished jurors makes the final selection after a rigorous vetting process. Nominations for the 2017 Hilton Humanitarian Prize will be accepted from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, and should be submitted through the Hilton Foundation website.
About The Task Force for Global Health
The Task Force for Global Health is an international, nonprofit organization that works to improve health of people most in need, primarily in developing countries. Founded in 1984 by global health pioneer Bill Foege, The Task Force consists of programs focused on neglected tropical diseases, vaccines, field epidemiology, public health informatics, and health workforce development. The Task Force works in partnership with ministries of health and hundreds of organizations, including major pharmaceutical companies that donate billions of dollars annually in essential medicines. Major funders include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, de Beaumont Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development, Sightsavers, Pfizer, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and GSK. The Task Force team consists of 120 scientists, program experts, logisticians, and other global health professionals. It is affiliated with Emory University, headquartered in Decatur, Georgia, and has regional offices in Guatemala and Ethiopia. The Task Force currently supports work in 151 countries.