10 August '11
A fearless and outspoken former president of the National Institutes of Health and the American Red Cross, Dr. Bernadine Healy died August 6, 2011 of brain cancer. At the helm of the Red Cross, Dr. Healy championed efforts to end the exclusion of Israel's Magen David Adom from membership in the International Red Cross, cutting US funding to the international body.
Two months after assuming command of the American Red Cross in September 1999, Healy flew to Geneva to address a large assembly of the International Red Cross movement. And, in the eyes of international officials, she charged in like a bull in a china shop.
''She comes in and makes a speech in which she harangues the assembled membership about the inequity of the exclusion of M.D.A. and how the American Red Cross is going to make inclusion happen now, whether we liked it or not,'' said Christopher Lamb, an executive of the international federation. ''She spoke about the movement, describing everyone as cowards and failures and people who didn't understand.''
Lawrence Eagleburger wrote in a Washington Post op-ed column
that Healy simply refused to turn ''a blind eye on a moral wrong.'' And persuaded by her passion, the American Red Cross board went right along with her. It agreed to start withholding its $4.5 million annual dues to the international federation; that money is 25 percent of the federation headquarters' budget.
On June 21, 2006, Israel was finally admitted as a full member to the ICRC. Dr. Healy's unequivocal leadership years earlier gave crucial impetus to that outcome.
She will be remembered for many achievements, among them her moral clarity and courage.
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