After the death of Carlo Urbani, the Italian doctor who first identified SARS and died of the same disease trying to fight it, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan wanted to remember him with these words:
Dr Carlo Urbani dedicated his life to helping protect and save the life of others.
It was characteristic of vigilance, professionalism and expertise that he was instrumental in ensuring an early response by the international community to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
Had it not been for his recognition that the outbreak of the virus was something out of the ordinary, many more would have fallen victim to SARS. It was the cruellest of ironies that he lost his own life to SARS while seeking to safeguard others from the disease.
Dr Urbani lives an inspiring legacy in the United Nations family and the global public health community. For his contribution on the front lines of the fight against disease, he will be remembered as a hero - in the best and truest sense of the word.