Dr. William Pick is Professor Emeritus at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, where he was the founding head of the School of Public Health. He is also Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where, after commencing his medical studies as a sixteen-year-old, he was one of the youngest graduates in medicine. In addition he holds the position of Extraordinary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1996 after having been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene a few years earlier.
His work in Public Health included a Fellowship, and later a Visiting Fellowship, in International Health at Harvard University, where he participated in teaching on Urban Health. This was reflective of his interest in urbanisation and health. He also served as temporary advisor to the World Health Organisation on occasion.
In South Africa he served as the Chairperson of the Epidemiology Society of Southern Africa, and later as Chairperson of the Public Health Association of South Africa. He was awarded the Public Health Innovation and Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Public Health Association of South Africa in 2014.
He served as interim President of the South African Medical Research Council from 2003 to 2005 and served on numerous national boards and committees, which included the Health Professions Council of South Africa, the South African Health Systems Trust, the Council of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa, where he had served as honorary secretary of the Faculty of Community Health some years earlier. He also served as the Chairperson of the Council for Medical Schemes, the national regulator of health insurance in South Africa, for six years and the Board of the South African Medical Research Council for close to nine years.
In 1994 he chaired the first post-apartheid ministerial Committee on Human Resources for Health in South Africa and in 2000 led the task team that developed a National Strategy for Human Resources for Health in South Africa.
He has produced over 100 publications in the form of journal articles, books, book chapters and monographs, which included ground-breaking work on the health of women in the urban informal sector in South Africa. He has served on a number of editorial boards and has supervised numerous doctoral and masters students.
In 2012 he received a gold medal from the University of the Witwatersrand in recognition of exceptional service and was the recipient of the President of the Convocation Medal at the University of Cape Town in 2014 in recognition of his distinguished leadership in Public Health and his work devoted to improving healthcare for all South Africans.