President's Malaria Initiative's Tribute to Alan Magill

Oct 2, 2015 |

In an August profile of Alan Magill in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the ebullient and brilliant director of malaria at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said he hoped to see a malaria-free world in his lifetime. Just a month later, suddenly and tragically, Alan died.

His death is a terrible loss for he was a trusted colleague, dear friend, careful mentor, and unabashed partner in the effort to create a world in which no one dies of malaria.

He rallied others to understand what was so clear to him. Eradication was the only solution – that malaria is a problem of staggering size – large enough to threaten the world’s sustainable development ambitions.

Alan was a visionary, an extraordinary leader, and great collaborator. Under his leadership, the partnership between the malaria team at the Gates Foundation and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) thrived. Our teams worked closely together - maximizing each other’s strengths for the benefit of the global malaria response. He brought out the best in others – in individuals, teams and institutions.

Alan believed in the dignity and sanctity of every life. He was driven by an unshakable belief that we could and would eradicate malaria, and far sooner than most would admit.

This week, Bill Gates and Ray Chambers, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals and for Malaria, released "From Aspiration to Action," an in-depth report on what it will take to eradicate malaria by 2040. The report exudes Alan’s vision, optimism and pragmatism.

A statement by Bill and Melinda Gates read “…Alan never gave up on the idea that humanity can wipe out terrible diseases. His optimism was contagious, to us and everyone else who was lucky enough to know him. When we talk about the kinds of leaders we want at the foundation, we simply say: We want more people like Alan Magill.”

We at PMI agree in earnest. He had great warmth, humor and goodwill. He was authentic and kind, humble, and grateful.

When the history of malaria elimination is written in 30 years, Alan Magill’s name and influence will be monumental.

We believe we are all better people for knowing him. We miss you Alan. Our hearts and prayers go out to your beloved family.

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