The Man Who Beat Smallpox: on global health, Gates, and why poverty is slavery

foegeBill Foege is the man.

You wouldn’t know it though, because he’s one of the most self-effacing guys you could meet. Try to compliment him on his singular achievements in global health, and he expertly deflects it. But behind the facade of a humble, ho-hum doctor, he’s really a social justice radical (he calls poverty the modern-day version of slavery). That’s what Tom Paulson thinks, anyway. By the end of the podcast, you’ll probably agree.

What’s indisputable is that Foege has had a massive global impact. He directed the Centers for Disease Control during the Carter and Reagan administrations. When Bill Gates created his foundation to fight poverty and disease, he turned to Foege for advice. And last year, Foege was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama for his leading role in eradicating smallpox, the only human disease to be eliminated.

What does global health mean and how has it changed? Has the Gates Foundation lost its way? And how did being really, really tall help him fight smallpox in Nigeria? We ask Foege all this and more, and boy, does he have some stories to tell. If you want to fight poverty and disease, and actually succeed, you owe it yourself to listen to this special extended conversation.

Plus, we welcome the other Tom, Tom Murphy (our East Coast correspondent), to the podcast for the first time to discuss the headlines, including the Syrian refugee crisis and what the next generation of the Millennium Development Goals should look like. Tune in below.

And don’t miss a single Humanosphere podcast – we’re now on iTunes! Check it out and subscribe.

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Ansel Herz is a freelance multimedia journalist whose objective is to “go to where the silence is." His work has been published by ABC News, The Nation magazine, the New York Daily News, Al Jazeera English, Free Speech Radio News, Inter-Press News and many other publications. A Seattle native and survivor of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ansel is producer of Humanosphere's podcast, among other things. You can contact him at ansel.herz-at-gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Ansel.