“When he talked about global health, the world listened”

[2017-02-08] Peter Byass, professor of epidemiology and global health at Umeå University talks about his friend and colleague, Hans Rosling, who died yesterday, Tuesday.

Hans Rosling, at TED lecture in 2007.
Photo: Pierre Omidyar, Flickr.

How important has Hans Rosling been for the research field of epidemiology and international health?

“Most of us who work in global health spend a lot of time talking to other people in the same field. Hans broke this mould – when he talked about global health, the world listened”.

What was his most important findings?

“It wasn’t so much a question of his primary findings, but the use he made of his expert knowledge, together with other people’s work, to communicate the fundamentals of global health. He developed his own unique style as a communicator, that cut through unnecessary details and convinced people about scientific facts that have global implications”.

What impact has he had for the knowledge of the health situation in the world?

“Hans influenced so many people – he fearlessly spoke truth to power, including world leaders and major philanthropists – as well as changing the world view of so many ordinary people. He was absolutely convinced that taking an independent and fact-full view of the world was what mattered”.

Do you share his positive way of looking at the situation in the world?

“Hans and I often discussed various issues, and we didn’t always agree on what the most important global concerns were. But the conversations were fascinating, and yes, there is much to be optimistic about in today’s world, as well as some obvious and complex problems”.

Editor: Mattias Mitz

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