From the October 2016 issue of The Rotarian
Tom Frieden is a little out of breath. He just climbed the stairs from a meeting to his office on the top floor of the 12-story headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. “I did that because we have a beautiful stairway in this building. I can look outside, and I get better email coverage on the stairs than I do in the elevator,” the CDC director says. His trip up the stairs sums up his view on one of the tenets of his work: “The sweet spot of public health is making the healthiest thing to do the default value – in other words, the easiest thing to do.”
Frieden took his post in 2009 after stopping the largest outbreak of drug-resistant tuberculosis in U.S. history in New York City, helping establish TB treatment programs in India that have saved more than 3 million lives, and serving seven-plus years as health commissioner of New York City. There, he worked with Mayor Michael Bloomberg to make all restaurants and bars smoke-free, making New York the first major city to do so outside California. His controversial policies had him criticized as a “nanny” in some circles – and lauded as a visionary in others.
As head of the U.S. public health system, Frieden has taken on everything from Ebola to the flu. But where his work most closely intersects with Rotary’s is in polio eradication – CDC joins Rotary, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organization as a core partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. CDC deploys scientists to investigate outbreaks of polio, identify the strain of poliovirus involved, and pinpoint its geographic origin. “Rotary has done such a phenomenal job for so many decades on this, and now we are poised to get over the finish line and end polio once and for all,” Frieden says.
He spoke with senior editor Diana Schoberg about ending polio and the best buys in public health.
Nations around the world observed the International Day of Peace on 21 September, a date designated by the United Nations in 2001 as "a day of global ceasefire and nonviolence."
Rotary's commitment to building peace and resolving conflict is rooted in the Rotary Peace Centers program, formed in 2002. Each year, the program prepares up to 100 fellows to work for peace through a two-year master's degree program or a three-month professional certificate program at university partners worldwide.
Today, nearly 1,000 peace centers alumni are applying their skills — negotiating peace in conflict areas, drafting legislation to protect exploited children, keeping communities safe through innovative law enforcement tactics, and pursuing many other career paths devoted to peace.
Click here to Learn how you can support Rotary Peace Centers.
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