Copenhagen, 13 November 2020
At the resumed Seventy-third World Health Assembly, 2 individuals and 1 organization from the WHO European Region were awarded prestigious global public health prizes for their significant contribution to population health.
Professor Gunhild Waldemar from Denmark was presented with the His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Prize for Research in Health Care for the Elderly. Both the Equi-Sastipen-Rroma Network of Spain and Professor Dame Sally Davies from the United Kingdom were also awarded with the Nelson Mandela Award for Health Promotion during a ceremony on 13 November.
The prizes are awarded by a selection panel following recommendations received from Member States after an invitation by WHO’s Director-General. The awards are named after well known health professionals, international figures or prominent foundations committed to supporting innovation in international and global public health.
WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge congratulated all the winners of the public health prizes, in particular those from the WHO European Region: “Their continuous dedication to improve the health of people, especially those who are vulnerable and face health inequities, is an inspiration to us all. These are concrete examples, putting into practice the principle of leaving no one behind in health – central to the European Programme of Work ‘United Action for Better Health’. I’m pleased to see the winners given the recognition they thoroughly deserve.”
Award winners from the European Region
Professor Gunhild Waldemar was awarded for her contribution to research in the areas of health care for older people and health promotion. In 2007, Professor Waldemar established the Danish Dementia Research Centre and has supported the development of dementia national care action plans.
The Equi-Sastipen-Rroma Network comprises 21 Sinti and Roma associations who liaise with various governmental agencies in Spain to facilitate access to health and social services as well as to promote health equity in the Roma population. Through its work, including training of health professionals in intercultural competence and increasing awareness about health issues that affect the Roma population, the Network has strengthened trust between Roma communities and health administrations and services.
Until recently, Professor Dame Sally Davies was Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom, working to improve the quality of people’s health no matter their location or financial situation. She was pivotal in launching noncommunicable disease risk prevention strategies, including a nationwide sugar levy, standardized tobacco packaging and programmes to ensure access to sports and exercise facilities. She is also a global leader in combating antimicrobial resistance.
Winners from outside the WHO European Region included:
- Dr Errol R. Alden of the United States of America, awarded the Ihsan Doğramacı Family Health Foundation Prize;
- Geo-RIS (Sistema Geoespacial de las Redes Integradas de Salud, Geospacial System of Integrated Health Networks) of the Dirección General de Aseguramiento e Intercambio Prestacional del Ministerio de Salud of Peru, presented with the Sasakawa Health Prize; and
- Dr João Aprigio Guerra de Almeida of Brazil and The Sickle Cell Disease Consortium of the United Republic of Tanzania, both presented with the Dr Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health.