Founded in 1984 by William H. Foege, a renowned epidemiologist and former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta-based Task Force for Global Health initially focused on a single health issue, improving childhood immunization rates in developing countries, but today works in a hundred and fifty-one countries to address large-scale health challenges affecting people living in extreme poverty — including neglected tropical diseases, access to vaccines, field epidemiology, public health informatics, and health workforce development. The organization is credited with working with the pharmaceutical industry to donate billions of dollars annually in medicines for the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases and is a major partner in the global effort to eliminate trachoma, river blindness, and lymphatic filariasis.
"The Task Force is about compassion, collaboration, and smart solutions," said Hilton Foundation president and 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."
More recently, the organization has been exploring how it can help address the growing epidemic of non-communicable diseases, which have eclipsed infectious diseases as the major cause of death in developing countries. To that end, the $2 million in prize money will be used by the organization to acquire larger headquarters that support its efforts to address NCDs and expand its existing programs.
"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 Task Force for Health president and CEO David Ross. "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."