Rockefeller Foundation will not abandon its commitments to public health

Rumours that one of the world's most prestigious private philanthropic organisations - the Rockefeller Foundation - is about to withdraw its commitments to health are untrue, the Foundation's president has told The Lancet in an Editorial published online today (Tuesday November 7, 2006).

The Foundation, founded in 1913, has over $34 billion in assets and more than 170 employees worldwide. Its funding led to the development of a yellow fever vaccine in 1935 and it has played a central part in establishing American schools of public health. Last year, it donated $8 million to the International Partnership for Microbicides as part of its contribution to prevent HIV transmission; $500 000 to Makerere University, Uganda, for public health education; and $450 000 to the INDEPTH Network in Ghana for epidemiology training.

Judith Rodin became the president of the Foundation in March, 2005. Rumours that she would reduce or even withdraw the Foundation's long-standing commitments to public health have concerned the global health community. However, in an interview with The Lancet on Nov 3, Rodin allayed concerns that she was about to abandon health. The Foundation will "continue to work in health robustly," she told The Lancet. She implied that her new proposals, to be presented to the Foundation's Board of Trustees this week, will allow for an even greater commitment to health in the future.

The Lancet comments: "It seems, therefore, that talk of health's erasure from the Foundation's portfolio is simply wrong. This news is welcome, and counters a damaging year of uncertainty and speculation. While she and her team could have done more to bring the health community with them during this interval of change, the promise, at least, is that health is not only safe in the hands of the new regime at the Rockefeller Foundation but is also likely to be strengthened. We look forward to seeing that promise become a flourishing reality."

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Contact: The Lancet press office T) +44 (0) 207 424 4949/4249 pressoffice@lancet.com

EARLY ONLINE PUBLICATION: Tuesday November 7, 2006.


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