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WHO Recognizes Excellence in Global Health at 77th World Health Assembly

During a special ceremony at the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly in Geneva on Friday, 31 May 2024, awards were presented to persons and institutions from around the world for their outstanding contributions to public health.

Eight winners were awarded by the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly President, Dr Edwin Dikoloti of Botswana, together with high-level representatives of the foundations providing the public health awards and prizes and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, as Administrator for the prizes.

The call for nominations of candidates for each prize is sent out each year after closure of the World Health Assembly. Nominations can be made by national health administrations of a WHO Member State and by former recipients of the prizes. At its 154th session in January 2024, the Executive Board designated the 2024 winners of the prizes, on the basis of proposals made by the dedicated selection panel for each prize.

Winners of the 2024 prizes

Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health

2024 laureate: Dr Bader Al-Rawahi, Oman

Dr Bader Al-Rawahi leads a major public health programme as Director of Communicable Diseases and Control, and Manager of the Expanded Programme of Immunization, at the Ministry of Health of Oman. The high quality of immunization services provided in the country is widely recognized internationally. Dr Al-Rawahi has kept abreast of new scientific, programmatic and policy developments to provide communities with a highly performing immunization programme and to achieve significant major health results. During the COVID-19 pandemic he ensured that COVID-19 vaccines were available to everyone in Oman, regardless of their registration status, achieving coverage of 94%.

Sasakawa Health Prize

2024 laureate: Dr Doreen Ramogola-Masire, Botswana

As a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, at the University of Botswana, Dr Ramogola-Masire has played an important role in the development and implementation of the first National Cervical Cancer Prevention Strategy. During her service as a member of the National HIV Technical Working Group for the past two decades, she proactively worked for developing and updating the National Strategic Framework for HIV.

United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize

2024 prize winner: the National Death Registry System, Saudi Arabia

The National Death Registry System is a programme within the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia. Thanks to this system, the country is able to share its mortality data with WHO and can now identify regions with the highest mortality rates and prioritize the provision of medical support to those areas. The data collected through this system inform national health policies and resource allocation within the health system. Recognizing the need to adapt to the continuing digital transformation and automation, Saudi Arabia prioritized the digitization and automation of its mortality data registry.

His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Prize for Research in Health Care for the Elderly and in Health Promotion

The 2024 Prize was jointly awarded to the Chinese Geriatrics Society, China, and Dr Ahmed Hamed Saif Al Wahaibi, Oman

The Chinese Geriatrics Society is a nongovernmental organization whose aim is to improve the health of 267 million older persons in China. The Society conducts a broad range of programmes and activities that are central to healthy ageing through a comprehensive approach that includes geriatric assessment, clinical treatment, nutritional support, rehabilitation and palliative care. It carries out innovative research on multimorbidity in older age and related biomarkers, and develops guidance and care models to support person-centred and integrated health services, dealing with issues such as access to palliative care.

Dr Ahmed Hamed Saif Al Wahaibi is a family physician who has made an important contribution to integrating high-quality care of older people within primary health care in Oman. Most recently, he has been leading the Elderly Care Section in the Primary Health Care Department of the Ministry of Health. He has contributed to the development of a national programme for older persons that provides screening, assessment and early interventions as part of primary health care for people aged 60 years and older. The programme aims to prevent diseases, provide continuity of care from health care settings to patients’ homes, maximize independence and enable older persons to have access to community resources.

Nelson Mandela Award for Health Promotion

The 2024 award was jointly bestowed to Professor Bontle Mbongwe, Botswana and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), India

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore, India delivers state-of-the-art clinical care, carrying out training and research as well as involving the communities it serves. It collaborates with central and state governments in framing, informing and implementing national policies and strategies such as the National Mental Health Policy (2014), the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, and the National Suicide Prevention Strategy (2022).

NIMHANS involves young people as change agents within district youth-empowerment centres in order to bridge the gap between young people, their families and an ever-changing society (reaching about 6 million young people). In addition, it is engaged in a national initiative for child protection, mental health and psychosocial care (reaching more than 3 million people).

Professor Bontle Mbongwe from Botswana is a renowned public health advocate and a passionate tobacco control activist. Through country-level consultations that she initiated during the negotiation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Botswana’s Control of Smoking Act, 1992, was amended in 2004 to restrict smoking in public places to protect children, pregnant women and workers, raise the minimum-age restrictions for selling tobacco products, prohibiting their sale to persons under 18 years and ban tobacco advertising and promotion.

Ihsan Doğramacı Family Health Foundation Prize

The 2024 winner: Dr Jamila Taiseer Yasser Al Abri, Oman

Dr Al Abri is a renowned obstetrician-gynaecologist in Oman with extensive experience and leadership in women’s health. She is currently the Director of the Department of Woman and Child Health in Oman. She has worked extensively in the field of family health, including: community health; mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis; human papillomavirus; HIV and management of a variety of communicable diseases; maternal health and prevention of maternal mortality; and newborn, child and adolescent health at primary care and tertiary care levels. Dr Al Abri has demonstrated significant leadership in teaching and managing national health programmes, including on breast cancer, mental health and autism spectrum disorders, and other family health issues. She has played an important role in contributing to the strategic plans for women’s and children’s health as part of Oman’s long-term vision, Health Vision 2050.

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