- This initiative recognizes people and organizations that fight for equality and equity in health.
- The Global Health Leaders Awards emerged in 2019.
- During the 75th World Health Assembly, the 6 winners of this year were announced.
Since its birth in 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) has focused on promoting a healthy lifestyle. In addition, it also focuses on fighting so that everyone can access basic medical services when they need it. With this in mind, also to people in particular who fight every day for the same purpose through the Global Health Leaders Awards.
In that sense, it is not necessary to be a health professional, but anyone who fights for equality can be nominated. In the end, the WHO is in charge of choosing the winners and in all cases points out that they are examples for humanity to follow.
The awards ceremony, which was established in 2019, was part of the live-streamed high-level opening session of the 75th World Health Assembly. In total there were six winners of the Global Health Leaders Awards 2022 and it is the following.
Dr Paul Farmer
Dr. Farmer, who passed away in his sleep in February 2022 in Rwanda, was chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Partners in Health. He was the co-founder and chief strategist of Partners In Health, an international non-governmental organization established in 1987 to provide direct health care, research and advocacy services for those who are ill and living in poverty.
Dr. Farmer wrote extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality. Wingdie “Didi” Bertrand, co-founder and president of the Women and Girls Initiative, accepted the award on behalf of her late husband.
Dr Ahmed Hankir
Dr Ahmed Hankir, a British-Lebanese psychiatrist, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Mental Health Research in association with the University of Cambridge and a Clinical Scholar in Psychiatry at King’s College London in the UK. He also works in frontline psychiatry for the NHS in South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and is visiting professor of academic psychiatry at the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies in Cape Canaveral, USA.
While at medical school in the UK, he developed a debilitating episode of psychological distress, triggered by the traumatic events while living in Lebanon. He is the author of The Wounded Healer, an anti-stigma program combining the power of performing arts and storytelling with psychiatry, which has been integrated into the medical school curriculum of four UK universities. He is also known for his work on Muslim mental health, Islamophobia, and violent extremism.
Mrs. Ludmila Sofia Oliveira Varela
Cape Verdean youth sports advocate and player for the Cape Verde national volleyball team. Ms. Oliviera Varela’s work to facilitate access to sport for all provides a healthy alternative to risky behavior among young people and addresses the growing threat of non-communicable diseases. She conducts weekly training sessions for young people in the city of Praia.
In 2021 she was one of the finalists of the UNESCO global competition on the ‘Power of sport in times of crisis’ and has received awards in several sports competitions in the Africa Region.
Polio workers in Afghanistan
Eight were also honored volunteer polio workers who were shot dead by gunmen in Afghanistan’s Takhar and Kunduz provinces on February 24, 2022. Four of these polio workers were women. The eight volunteers were reaching thousands of children through house-to-house campaigns in northeastern Afghanistan.
Their work was crucial in a country where wild type 1 poliovirus is still circulating. Their names were Mr. Mohamamd Zubair Khalazai, Mr. Najibullah Kosha, Mr. Shadab Yosufi, Mr. Shareefullah Hemati, Ms. Haseeba Omari, Ms. Khadija Attaee, Ms. Munira Hakimi and Ms. Robina Yosufi and their brother Shadab.
ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist Workers)
ASHA (which means hope in Hindi) are the more than one million women volunteers in India, honored for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system, to ensure that those living in rural poverty can access primary health care services, as shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ASHAs worked to provide maternal care and immunization of children against vaccine-preventable diseases; community health care; treatment of hypertension and tuberculosis; and core health promotion areas for nutrition, sanitation, and healthy living.
Mr. Yōhei Sasakawa
Mr. Yōhei Sasakawa is the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for the Elimination of Leprosy and the Japanese Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy. For more than 40 years, he has continued his global fight against leprosy, as well as against stigma and social discrimination.
As Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Japan’s largest charitable foundation, Mr. Sasakawa has been a pioneer in guiding the public interest activities of the private sector in modern Japan.