By The Sabin Vaccine Institute
One year has passed since we said goodbye to Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Sabin Vaccine Institute’s former Executive Vice President and Director of our Vaccine Advocacy and Education program. Best known for his tireless work to eradicate polio and smallpox, and eliminate other vaccine-preventable diseases, Ciro was a true public health hero.
Ciro proved that seemingly impossible public health challenges could be overcome with bold leadership, unwavering commitment and a focus on country-owned solutions.
Shortly after his death on May 28, 2014, the New York Times recognized Ciro for his impressive public health career. The article features meaningful comments from Dr. Donald A. Henderson, who led the World Health Organization’s global smallpox eradication initiative in the 1960s and ’70s. Here, Dr. Henderson sheds light on Ciro’s awe-inspiring ability to lead and inspire others.
“’It is difficult to grasp the magnitude of Ciro’s achievement,’ said Dr. Donald A. Henderson. ...
Dr. Henderson recalled Dr. de Quadros’s persistence in the midst of Ethiopia’s civil war as a half-dozen of his teams were kidnapped and one of his United Nations helicopters was commandeered with its pilot aboard. He helped negotiate the return of the health teams and the pilot, all of whom resumed their work in the field.
‘That’s a measure of the dedication he inspired,’ Dr. Henderson said. ‘Even that helicopter pilot’ — who had vaccine aboard when he was hijacked — ‘vaccinated the rebels who held him.’”
Ciro’s efforts in Ethiopia are highlighted in the following video clip produced by the World Health Organization. The video demonstrates Ciro’s leadership, and ground-breaking surveillance and containment strategies in action.
Ciro was a proudly vocal vaccine advocate whose impatience with bureaucratic inaction was legendary. His legacy reminds us that the global community cannot rest until we reach every child with life-saving vaccines. In 2013 he wrote:
“Medicine, sanitation, nutrition, education - all are necessary and interrelated components of preventing and curing sickness. But there is one tool that stands out as the most effective way to fight disease: vaccines. Every child — no matter where he or she is born — has a fundamental right to vaccines.”
Ciro’s legacy lives on through our daily work to create a world free of needless human suffering due to vaccine-preventable diseases. Most concretely, his name lives on through Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Dr. Ciro de Quadros Vaccinology Course in Latin America, a training course that brings together immunization managers and leading experts in the field of vaccinology to familiarize them with immunization policies and technical guidelines — along with effective communication strategies.
Just recently, Dr. Jon Andrus, Sabin’s current Executive Vice President and Director of Vaccine Advocacy and Education, sat down with PAHO to share his thoughts about Ciro. Jon, who worked with Ciro for many years at PAHO, said:
“Ciro’s values, simply put, were grounded in breaking down any barrier against inequity. He was a true believer in the power of vaccines and how that power should benefit every child in the world, regardless of income, race, where they live – that embodied Ciro’s values.
His vision was an outgrowth of those values – equity for all. But he had a unique ability to frame the vision in a way that would be sustained, that built on previous successes, that built on lessons learned, while building capacity to take on additional targets and goals in public health.”
Today, on the one-year anniversary of his passing, we remember and honor our dear friend and colleague, Ciro de Quadros, a giant in the world of public health. His legacy will continue to guide our values as an organization and push us to work harder towards our ultimate goal: to eliminate human suffering from vaccine-preventable and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). From