Today, on behalf of the entire UN Foundation family, we add our voice to the chorus of those who are mourning the loss of a true and tireless champion for public health.
Dr. Pete Salama represented the United Nations at its best. The nearly two decades he gave in service to the UN was really a testament to his service to the global community – from Afghanistan to Yemen, Ethiopia to West Africa. His ability to compassionately support communities at the frontline of care in the most trying of circumstances perfectly complemented his ability to lead complex public health responses in a multilateral context. Dr. Salama was a consummate humanitarian and a brilliant public health professional. He was also a decent, deeply respectful, and caring human being whose example inspired those around him.
The World Health Organization is a stronger institution because Dr. Salama was a part of it. He ushered through a significant reform of the World Health Emergencies Programme after effectively leading UNICEF’s response to the West Africa Ebola outbreak, engendering the trust of governments, his colleagues, and countless others. In his more recent role as Executive Director for Universal Health Coverage, Dr. Salama took up the mantle of one of the most important aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals: ensuring health for all.
It’s hard to imagine a region, public health domain, or institution in the field of global public health that has not been bettered by his indefatigable, compassionate and urgent commitment to improving and saving lives. We send our thoughts to his wife and three children, his friends and family, and all of the colleagues inside and out of the United Nations who had the pleasure of working with him.