Polio eradication workers lose chief mentor

Bob Keegan’s leadership and energy continue to inspire

Bob Keegan CDC

An inspiring mentor to many in the polio eradication effort passed away this week. Bob Keegan, former deputy director of the Global Immunization Division at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) died on 16 January, 2012, after a long illness.

Keegan’s leadership, energy and innovation played a pivotal role in shaping the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). In the process, he became one of the most respected figures in global public health. Yet he was always down to earth, practical and a great source of common sense. Bob Keegan believed that public health was 99% common sense and 1% science. In all his endeavors and accomplishments, he demonstrated outstanding diplomacy, sensitivity and social and interpersonal skills as a CDC ambassador on global immunization to international organizations, governments and global health leaders. He was a true humanitarian who championed global sustainable development and health equity.

From senior leaders to field staff and volunteers, many figures in polio eradication today and in public health in general benefitted from his counsel, patience and unwavering support during hard times.

Bob Keegan was a recipient of the William C. Watson Jr. Medal of Excellence and the Public Health Advisor of the Year Award from the Watsonian Society. He also received the U.S. Public Health Service Special Recognition Award (1995) for his significant achievements and service in global public health programs. He worked closely with the CDC Foundation, CDC colleagues, Rotary International and partners to help establish the Polio Eradication Heroes Fund. This fund honours those seriously injured or killed while working on vaccination campaigns with recognition and a cash award for their families. In honour of Bob’s many accomplishments, the CDC Foundation is renaming this the Bob Keegan Polio Eradication Heroes Fund. To donate to this important fund, please visit the following link to the CDC Foundation website, and choose the ‘Bob Keegan Polio Eradication Heroes Fund’ option from one of the pull-down menus.

Polio eradication staff and volunteers around the world continue to take inspiration from his courage, professionalism, grace and good humour.


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