WHO India honours public health champions

At a national consultation held on 1 April 2015 at New Delhi jointly with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India (GoI) to commemorate the World Health Day 2015 (7 April), the WHO Country Office for India gave out awards for Public Health Champions.

The award winners were: SEWA Rural; Community Health Department, Christian Medical College, Vellore; Biocon Foundation and Dr Vinod K. Paul, AIIMS, New Delhi for sustained contribution to public health. In the category of innovation, the awardees were Narayana Health and Ekjut.

Present on the occasion were: Mr Bhanu Pratap Sharma, Secretary (Health & Family Welfare), GoI and Chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI); Mr Keshav Desiraju, Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, GoI; Dr Jagdish Prasad, Director General Health Services, MoHFW; Mr Anshu Prakash, Joint Secretary, MoHFW; Mr Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce; Mr Y. S. Malik, CEO, FSSAI, MoHFW; and Dr S. Venkatesh, Director, National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC), MoHFW, amongst other eminent academic, technical, research and industry experts, nongovernmental and civil society organizations.

Highlighting the importance of the public health champions awards, Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India said, "Public health is a challenging field and these awards are our way of saying thank you to the talented individuals and organizations that have dedicated themselves to this field. These awards are an attempt to recognize and honour the best in this field and also to encourage others to emulate them."

The rationale for recognizing public health champions is to honour efforts of both, individual(s) and institution(s) who have made an outstanding contribution to public health through advocacy for and involvement in impactful health policies and programmes with proven public health achievements and substantial improvement in equitable health outcomes in the country.

The awards comprise two categories: sustained contribution to the field of public health, and innovation. The scope of the awards covers contributions to significant advances in population and person focused services and inter-sectoral actions. In addition, contributions that have assisted WHO in performing any one of its six core functions were taken into consideration.

A brief on the public health champions:

Dr Vinod Paul is a Professor and Head of the Department of Pediatrics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. His public health work comprises of advocacy, research, education and policy guidance. Dr Paul has also contributed to a number of policy changes in India, especially those dealing with the health of newborns.

The Community Health and Development Department of the Christian Medical College, Vellore is providing primary care to the rural, urban and tribal communities in its vicinity. A training ground for medical, nursing and paramedical students, the department has set an example in community based service, public health teaching and research for several medical and public health institutions in India and south Asia.

SEWA Rural endeavors to reach out and assist the poorest of the poor through rational medical care of high quality covering multiple specialties to over 2500 villages. It has also been using mobile phone technology innovatively to empower community health workers and other government health staff for improving surveillance and delivery of proven maternal, newborn and child health interventions.

Biocon Foundation focusses its healthcare programs on early detection and prevention of noncommunicable diseases through a network of community health workers and nine Biocon Foundation primary health centres across Karnataka. It is also working on sustainable and cost-effective community based models for cervical and oral cancer screening and detection by community health workers who are trained to conduct screening using simple mobile technology.

Narayana Health is one of India's largest and globally one of the most economical healthcare providers. Their e-Health Centres provide technology enabled innovative primary healthcare services to people living in resource-deprived locations of India. The e-Health Centre solution enables the collection, analysis and tracking of individual and community-wide data on disease patterns and risk factors to derive regional health and disease burden profiles with high potential to influence the quality of life of many people in India.

Ekjut, a community-based NGO, currently working in Jharkhand and Odisha, has been empowering rural communities by facilitating participatory learning and action for reducing newborn mortality. Their interventions have resulted in considerable decrease in newborn and maternal deaths, especially in areas, which lack access to health services and with difficult geographical terrain. These innovations have led to their expansion to other neighbouring Indian states.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Rajeev Varma
Senior Communications Officer
WHO India Country Office
New Delhi
Tel: 91-11-47594800
Mobile: +91 8826611139

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