How We Do It
Big, seemingly intractable global health challenges can never be solved by one person or one organization. But they can be solved. Through collaboration, we bring together key stakeholders around the world with a common goal to stop diseases and strengthen health systems.
Coalitions and partnerships are at the heart of everything The Task Force does. We bring together the foremost public health experts and organizations in the world, forging strong coalitions dedicated to solving some of humanity’s most vexing health challenges. We build partnerships with countries and allied organizations across the globe to help strengthen health systems that protect people and keep diseases at bay. Before our founding, this collaborative method was proven to work when it was used for smallpox eradication, the only human disease to be permanently wiped off the face of the earth. Our founder, Dr. Bill Foege — a leader in the smallpox eradication effort — instilled the lessons learned from the smallpox eradication program into our organization’s DNA. To this day, we use and seek to continuously improve the collaborative methods and principles developed by Dr. Foege, applying them to an ever-broader set of diseases and health challenges.
Through our programs, we manage or serve as the secretariat for 12 coalitions, committees, networks, and partnerships, involving more than 200 organizations. Though we are an enormously impactful organization, we never forget that our reach and global health impact is ultimately due to the tremendous work of our coalitions and implementing partners in countries throughout the world. We make a special point, therefore, to shine light on the successes of our coalition partners. Partly for that reason, global health leaders and organizations seek us out to serve as a neutral convener. We have a history of working collaboratively and faithfully with a great variety of partners, such that The Task Force has now been a trusted global health problem-solver for more than three decades.
Advancing Global Policy
As a World Health Organization (WHO) non-State actor, we are recognized by the WHO as non-State actors in official relations with the global entity. In this role, we help advance public health policy on a global level and engage with the WHO at the World Health Assembly and other official meetings, providing us with a unique opportunity to collaborate with global health and policy leaders ultimately supporting and promoting health for all populations.
Scientific & Technological Advances
The Task Force also mobilizes innovative technologies and develops and applies scientific advances to improve global health. Partnering with scientists and inventors, we help identify new, cost-effective laboratory and technological developments and tools that could be applied to real-life health challenges in some of the most remote and economically disadvantaged communities. Whether it is implementing diagnostic tools that are usable outside of laboratories, combining drug therapies, or developing sophisticated laboratory and information technologies that are proven to accelerate disease elimination, we are helping to increase the effectiveness of the health systems in low- to middle- income countries.
'Final Mile' Oriented
There’s a good reason we are called The Task Force, a term used for a group organized to achieve a specific objective. Whatever the health problem, we approach the challenge first by working with our partners to clearly define what it means to succeed.
As Dr. Foege suggested of childhood immunization (our organization’s first ‘task’): Working toward improving childhood immunization levels was not specific enough. Collectively agreeing on a target of 80 percent coverage worldwide helped bring the final mile into view, motivating action and providing a metric for progress.
Sometimes, as in the case of polio, complete and final disease eradication is the final mile. In other cases, as with trachoma, elimination of the disease as a public health problem is the goal (i.e., reducing prevalence to the point that sporadic cases can be handled through regular clinical care systems). For health systems strengthening programs, the final mile is reached when every country has a demonstrably effective, sustainable capacity for a key public health function (e.g., for disease outbreak detection and control).
For all of our programs, this ‘final mile’ orientation has proven to be a key element in inspiring and unifying coalition partners. It helps all involved in a given effort to visualize what they are trying to achieve, develop plans for making and measuring progress, and mobilize and deploy their respective resources to reach their shared goal.
Our Coalitions, Committees, Networks & Partnerships
- Brighton Collaboration
- Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination
- Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases
- Global Funders Consortium for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development
- Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy
- Mectizan® Expert Committee (MEC)
- MedSurplus Alliance
- National Certification Committee (for safe handling and containment of all polioviruses)
- Partnerships for Influenza Vaccine Introduction
- Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) Coalition
- Trachoma Expert Committee (TEC)
These are some of our major partners excluding the numerous ministries of health we work with:
- Ascension Global Mission
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
- deBeaumont Foundation
- Johnson & Johnson
- Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A.*
- Pfizer Inc.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- UK aid
- World Health Organization
* known as MSD outside the US and Canada
By: Dave Ross, ScD, President and CEO In February, we met with
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Header photo captions: Our International Trachoma Initiative director greets an in-country partner in Ethiopia.