Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Unni Karunakara ’95MPH: healing power

Unni Karunakara ’95MPH skipped his Yale commencement ceremony for a more important project: fighting tuberculosis in Ethiopia. He was already applying lessons learned in earning his master’s in public health.

“At Yale, I learnt that medicine had very little to do with health and that it had everything to do with society, politics, economics, the law, and the environment,” Karunakara said in a lecture last month at the School of Public Health. “Here, I became concerned about the health of the disadvantaged, the neglected, and the voiceless.”

With that concern for the powerless, Karunakara has become powerfulone of the “500 most powerful people on the planet,” according to Foreign Policy this week. In the magazine’s words, that makes him one of “the 0.000007 percent.”

Karunakara is international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as MSF or Doctors Without Borders), which provides emergency health care to people all over the world: victims of human trafficking in Yemen; children suffering from malaria and malnutrition in Niger; Iraqis with mental health disorders.

Other Yalies among the “500 most powerful on the planet” include, but are not necessarily limited to: US Secretary of State John Kerry ’66; Neil Keny-Guyer ’82MPPM, CEO of Mercy Corps and a Yale trustee; Yale president Rick Levin ’74PhD; PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi ’80MPPM; and Kenneth Roth ’80, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Filed under Unni Karunakara, School of Public Health, Doctors Without Borders, Médecins Sans Frontières
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