By Kemo Cham in Lusaka, Zambia
The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is the recipient of the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award in Public Health.
Unveiled at the ongoing Conference on Public Health in Africa 2023, Dr Ghebreyesus was recognized for his role in promoting public health on the continent and globally.
The award, organized by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), recognizes individuals who make impactful contributions to public health in Africa. It was first given in 2021, at the first edition of CPHIA, which was hosted virtually.
“This award is a celebration of individuals whose extraordinary contributions have left a lasting mark on public health and health research across the African continent,” said Dr Jean Kaseye, Director General of the Africa CDC, who presented the award to the Ethiopian head of the global health body.
Among many other achievements, Dr Kaseye cited Ghebreyesus’s role in the creating the Africa CDC, which he said has greatly impacted the continent.
Previous awardees include Congolese microbiologist, Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum in 2021, for his role in advancing Ebola research. He received the award alongside South African epidemiologist Professor Salim S Abdool Karim, recognized for his contributions to research in HIV prevention and treatment.
“Today, we recognize an individual whose unwavering commitment to public health has transcended borders and reshaped the global health landscape. This award is not just a token of appreciation; it is a testament to a lifetime of service, passion, and dedication to the well-being of communities far and wide,” said Kaseye.
Dr Tedros, a former minister of health of Ethiopia, is the first African to hold the position of WHO Director General.
According to the citation for his award, Dr. Tedros, during his term as WHO DG, exemplified transformative leadership, steering the organization through complex global health challenges with resilience and foresight. He is also recognized for his commitment to ensuring access to healthcare, promoting equity, and tackling emerging health threats which has left an “indelible impact” on the lives of millions around the world.
“His commitment to championing the International Health Regulations and the Pandemic Agreement, which constitute the international legal framework for enhancing pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, stands as a beacon of inspiration for all of us, a testament to the impact one individual can have on the health and well-being of humanity,” said Dr Kaseye.
Dr Tedros in a statement responding to the award emphasized on the role a strong healthcare system can facilitate development and ensure peace and stability in Africa.
He called on African leaders use their resources and invest in strengthening their health sectors.