2005 HEALTH AWARD
Irving C. Williams, M.D. MPH, has been working on behalf of children for more than 40 years. Williams started his career at Milwaukee Children’s Hospital and then worked in the inner city of Boston as a pediatrician to lower income families.
In 1974, Williams, a board certified pediatrician with specialities in Adolsecent Medicine and International Health, took his wife and four children to live in Tanzania while he helped establish a Pediatric Sickle Clinic at Bugando Hospital for the Ministry of Health. There, Williams watched many children die from preventable diseases such as malaria, measles, malnutrition, tetanus, and polio, prompting him to devote his life to the care of children living in remote areas of Africa. He founded Adventures in Health, Education and Agricultural Development (AHEAD Inc), which strives to reduce and eliminate disease and premature death, cultivate and advance healthy living, and foster sustainable environmental activity, while giving priority to child survival and women’s health.
Williams established several programs in Tanzania including the first immunization clinic at the Bugando Consulting Hospital; the Outreach Health Program, providing comprehensive health services to over 35 remote villages; the Teen Action Program, designed to empower youth with skills to avoid negative behavior; and the Water Testing & Pasteurization Initiative, teaching people how to pasteurize their water. Through a variety of mobile health outreach programs in Tanzania, he provided primary health services under trees, in one-room school houses, and any place where a scale could be hung, pressure cookers with needles and coolers with vaccines could be placed, and mothers and children could sit, even on rocks or the ground.
Williams and AHEAD Inc. have impacted more than 1.5 million children in the United States and Africa. Through his programs, Williams has raised the immunization coverage in the Meatu District of Tanzania from 28 percent to 98 percent, reduced malnutrition in children ages 5 and under from 20 percent to 2 percent, constructed water systems and health care facilities, provided scholarships for more than 230 youths to attend secondary school, and donated more than $1 million in medical, educational, and agricultural supplies to hospitals, schools and women’s groups.