Less than a year after discovering a deadly cancer, Hans Rosling died in Sweden on February 7th, 2015 (as reported by Gapminder). As a medical doctor he never stopped working to improve public health in the poorest countries in Africa and Asia, most recently in Liberia during the 2015 Ebola outbreak. Fortunately he went on to do much more, revolutionizing the education and presentation of data in our field. Among Hans Rosling many contribution the development field is free data from the International institutions which he “shamed” into making global data free and accessible (and to some extent “open source). Citing the U.S. Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) as the best data in the world, he argued passionately all international development data should be free and online. Once he had the data, Hans and his Gapminder NGO began explaining the transformation of our world that started in the 1990s, with the reversal of fortune which has brought China and South Asia back to center of the world stage emerging global power houses fitting their enormous populations and amazing history. This was the beginning for Rosling’s attack on the obsolete and irrelevant developed vs. developing country world view, which he effectively argued is obsolete. Combining income, fertility and child survival rates, he painted a data driven development vision of the world that integrated demography, economics and public health data. Starting with a famous TED talk in 2006 Rosling eventually distilled his worldview in a series of provocative and entertaining videos (see a sample of favorites below). Longer specials included The Joy of Statistics and “Don’t Panic” are perfect for classes on methods or development. His most recent and now seminal “Don’t panic” documentary focuses on global population growth starting back in Dhaka and Maputo, starting of course in the hospitals he knew and in some cases helped establish. He never stopped doing field work even as he came up with new passionate data arguments and ideas. Was Dr. Rosling’s first love public health in the poorest countries, teaching, communicating global data or helping students better understand the world (often by administering short pop quiz). Fortunately, the answer is all of the above. Particularly remarkable and moving is his work during the Ebola crisis in Liberia, where he worked with Margaret Lamunu and Luke Bawo at the Liberian Ministry Health. His 2015 fifteen minute presentation on the spread of Ebola is remarkable, as is the recent 25 minute post humus program done by the BBC’s More or Less group (see below).
Among Hans Rosling’s best videos (there are many):