There is sad news in the world of global health advocacy today as Hans Rosling, a great scientist, healer, and wonderful communicator, has passed away at the age of 68. Rosling may be known to many as the energetic face of various videos and TED Talks that portray human progress globally.
Rosling’s punchline was consistently optimistic, yet carried an implied warning that human progress depends on continuing to practice ideas that work rather than what we wished would work:
“And yet, despite the enormous disparities today, we have had 200 years of remarkable progress. The huge historical gap between the ‘rest and the West’ is now closing. We have become an entirely new, converging world, and I see a clear trend into the future, with aid, trade, green technology, and peace, it’s fully possible that everyone can make it…”
There is some irony in the fact Rosling has passed away in his late-60s as so much of his public persona has been based around increasing life expectancy tied to increasing wealth per capita.
Rosling died of pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive cancers, which is yet incurable. My hope is if we continue to open conversations and trade with others, we will, I have little doubt, continue to progress toward curing such terrible diseases and addressing the other challenges that plague our lives. Hans Rosling believed this was possible, and worked to share with us all just how far we’ve come already.