Every year, TIME magazine publishes its list of top 100 most influential leaders, thinkers, artists and innovators for the year.
Many of them are the same old celebrities (not in rehab), politicians, rich people and other luminaries any of us could choose based on a Google search or conversation around the table. Some of them just turn out to be idiots who accidentally did something significant, or “innovators” who will later be convicted of a crime.
But some of those in TIME’s top 100 list are indeed doing good and great things, making the world a better place. Many of these are already pretty well-known.
That’s why it’s so great to see that a soft-spoken physician who has cared more about helping the poorest of the poor than about gaining personal recognition is on TIME’s radar screen. PATH’s Marc LaForce is in the running, currently ranked as 46th!
I want everyone who believes that saving kids’ lives and helping the poor is more important than the “influential” work of Lady Gaga, Glenn Beck or Han Han (a Chinese race car driver) to vote for Mark LaForce.
Basically, LaForce stubbornly worked for more than a decade to develop an inexpensive vaccine against a form of meningitis that is a terror in central Africa.
The trick was getting it made cheap enough. No easy trick.
Here’s a story about the culmination of LaForce’s work — the launch of the meningitis vaccine project last December in Burkina Faso. The initiative is run by PATH and the World Health Organization with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Here’s what TIME magazine said:
LaForce is director of the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that last year began distribution in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger of the first low-cost vaccine for meningococcal meningitis A, a disease that reaches epidemic proportions across northern Africa’s “meningitis belt” every December. The disease kills about 10% of those who contract it — some 450 million people are at risk — and leaves some 20% of survivors severely disabled. The vaccine, called MenAfriVac, costs just 40 cents a dose. To date, some 19.5 million people have received it.