In 1995, a group of businessmen in Cairns identified a need for a Foundation that could focus and support public health activities in north Queensland. With support from Qld Health’s Tropical Public Health Unit, and the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Queensland, plans commenced to set up the Foundation.
The Foundation was incorporated in March 1997 and is a non-profit organisation with deductible gift recipient status. The charter of the Foundation, is to promote the health and wellbeing of north Queenslanders. The Foundation was named after Dr Edward Koch.
Dr Edward Koch was a pioneer of tropical medicine in Australia. As the medical director of the Cairns Hospital in the late 1880s, Dr Koch established effective local medical services and strong humanitarian ethics in the fledgling township.
Dr Koch is remembered for his ground breaking work in malaria research. Before the connection was fully understood, he recognised a causal link between mosquitoes and malaria.
He was tireless in his efforts to have local swampland cleared and filled and was often seen doing the rounds of work gangs in the late afternoon (when mosquitos were at their most fierce) exhorting workers to don long sleeves to avoid being bitten.
It was the blend of the independent thinker, researcher, and the hands-on medico and family physician who waived fees for the poor that made Edward Koch revered locally. It is also what inspired the Foundation to be named in his honour. On his death in 1901, a devoted public paid respect at a grand funeral and with a publicly funded monument erected in his honour.