Dr. Ciro de Quadros, a giant in the world of public health, died peacefully at home yesterday in Washington, DC, surrounded by his family. He was 74 years old.
Dr. de Quadros dedicated his life to championing health as a fundamental human right and worked tirelessly on behalf of the world’s poorest populations to increase access to life-saving vaccines. As a result, millions of children around the world are alive today, and millions more have grown into healthy, productive adults.
At the time of his death, Dr. de Quadros worked as Executive Vice President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, where for more than a decade he led advocacy efforts that encouraged low- and middle-income countries to prioritize and sustain financing for vaccine programs.
Prior to his time at Sabin, Dr. de Quadros worked at the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), where he gained wide acclaim for leading public health campaigns to eradicate polio and measles from the Western Hemisphere, and smallpox from Ethiopia, often under highly challenging circumstances.
As D.A. Henderson, a leading figure in eradicating smallpox, said of Dr. de Quadros in a 2011 New York Times article: “I watched him perform in Ethiopia. The obstacles were unbelievable — the emperor assassinated, two revolutionary groups fighting, nine of his own teams kidnapped, even a helicopter captured and held for ransom. He kept the teams in the field — and that helicopter pilot went out and vaccinated all the rebels.”
Dr. de Quadros’s forward-thinking vision, optimism and tenacity to overcome the seemingly impossible, coupled with his conviction that all countries, no matter their economic status, must invest in the well-being of their own people, helped transform modern day public health programs.
A man of deep integrity and humility, Dr. de Quadros was a mentor to many people within the global health community, and he was lauded for his many accomplishments.