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5 Notable Global Health Leaders

“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” – Theodore Roosevelt

A health professional is noted as one who provides health care for the community through the means of knowledge and practicality. Furthermore global health plays a pivotal role in ensuring that a high standard of healthcare is provided to all communities in an equitable manner. Leadership within global health is paramount to ensure that these mandates are established and this article wishes to celebrate the revolutionary global health leaders, both in the past and present, which have done so!


Dr Daniel Hale Williams is notably known for performing the first successful heart surgery which repaired a wound. It was documented in 1893 as a successful pericardial sac surgery which led to a post 20 year survival for the patient. Moreover, Dr Daniel Hale Williams is celebrated for providing solutions for health education in a global context. In 1891 he founded the first racially integrated staff hospital (Provident Hospital) as he was concerned with the lack of equality within training professionals. Furthermore in 1895 he founded the first professional body, National Medical Association, which allowed African American members to be admitted. These establishments have played a remarkable role in global health education in America.


Dr J. Soka Moses is a Liberian medical doctor who faced the Ebola outbreak as a junior doctor at the Redemption Hospital in Monrovia. He has described it as a ‘virtual biological bomb’ and ‘medical tsunami’ which led to the dismantling of health protocols and order.  During the outbreak he worked to establish and charge the biggest Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Monrovia where more than 600 patients were treated. To ensure that there was a strengthening within the public health and infectious disease epidemiological field; Dr J. Soka Moses went to enrol onto the MSc Control of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Presently he work with researchers from NIH and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to conduct innovative epidemiologic research which actively contributes towards global health.


Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, former Minister of Health for Rwanda, began her clinical practice in Belgium and France. Upon her return to Rwanda she was spurred to focus on global health issues where she has actively and successfully contributed to the reshaping of the Rwandan Health care policies and systems. Throughout her career she has accumulated endless accolades such as commissionaires, advisory and board positions. She has broken barriers related to gender, age and geographics to ensure that there is an effective delivery of health care solutions. Currently she has been appointed as the Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda. She is also a lectuer at Havard Medical School, Geisel School of Medicine and Dartmouth College.


Davies has a medical background where she qualified as a doctor from the University of Manchester and went to gain a Master of Science degree from the University of London. She became a consultant haematologist in 1985 at the Central Middlesex Hospital in Brent. Furthermore she has contributed to the healthcare profession through the means of research, in particular where she is a specialist in Sickle Cell Disease. Notably, Davies is known for being the first female to hold the position of Chief Medical Officer in 165 years and Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS) in 100 years! Her medical leadership role means that she works to advise and employ global health issues at the forefront.


Gayle is prominently known for being an expert on global development and issues.  She is a board certified pediatrician who completed her residency in pediatric medicine at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. During her clinical career she pursued a public health interest where she directed programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and spent 20 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Since 2005, she became the CEO and president of CARE which is a humanitarian agency which governs international development projects; it is known as one the largest organization aids which are focused on fighting global poverty.

Health care professionals play an important and pivotal role towards the advancement of global health and development of innovative schemes. It is important to note that influential leadership can be demonstrated within universities, local communities or global organisations, it is not limited. Thus; if you have a passion within the global health context, pursue it!

Written By Jade Okene


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