Next week the inaugural Women in Focus Awards will take place in Geneva, Switzerland celebrating the crucial role women play in the ongoing fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases, a role which often goes unrecognised and unrewarded.

From Bolivia and Bangladesh to Ethiopia and Yemen, women from 11 countries across the globe will be coming together on April 19 to applaud the tireless and vital role played by women on the frontline tackling NTDs in their communities.

As 2017 marks the 5th anniversary of the World Health Organization’s roadmap on NTDs and the London Declaration, the awards celebrate this milestone by shining a light on these inspirational women helping to control, eliminate and eradicate 10 neglected tropical diseases.

Dr. Wendy Harrison, Chair of the Neglected Tropical Diseases NGDO Network (NNN), says: “The Women in Focus Awards shine a light on women from all over the world who are working in their local communities, making a remarkable impact on tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases. One in seven people on the planet suffer from these diseases. That’s more than the entire population of Europe. Every day women all around the world are making crucial contributions to help defeat them and this is our chance to celebrate and acknowledge their vital role. We were blown away by the standard of entries and delighted to be honouring these truly remarkable women.”  

The Women in Focus Awards form part of the NTD summit taking place in Geneva 19-22 April 2017. The overall winner will be announced at a ceremony on 19 April .

--------- MEET THE 2017 FINALISTS ----------





Women in Focus - Inspirational Award  

Aciro Grace Oyat



Birke Nigatu



Sabittri Rani Roy



Bridgitte Jordan



Women in Focus - Community Champion Award  

Agnes Ochai



Sunita Devi



Susan Nkirote Mbabu



Nancy Komakech

Preventative Chemotherapy & NTDS


Women in Focus – Leadership Award  

Edridah Muheki Tukahebwa



Ifeoma Anagbogu



Valsa Augustine



Dr Muth Sinoun

Lymphatic Filariasis, Soil Transmitted Helminths & Schistosomiasis


Women in Focus - Exceptional Service Award  

Dhekra Annuzaili

Soil Transmitted Helminths & Schistosomiasis


Julie Akane

Oncho / Preventative Chemotherapy & NTDs


Uche Amazigo



Luz Stella Losada

Chagas, Soil Transmitted Helminths & Rabies


Women in Focus - Inspirational Award  

(For women who have been affected by NTDs themselves and have made significant contributions in supporting others)

Aciro Grace Oyat, 54, UGANDA

When her own son was affected by a NTD Aciro started volunteering as a community drugs distributor. It was 2007 and she worked amidst pockets of insurgency by LRA rebels and a population congested in camps. She was the only woman working in hard to reach conflict areas and treated her own family first to gain trust within the community, going on to inspire others to volunteer in a similar vital role. Aciro has spearheaded health education on Nodding syndrome and helped establish outreach posts for assessment of children affected by the disease.

Sabittri Rani Roy, 40s, BANGLADESH

Sabittri has been a leprosy sufferer from age of 16. Despite the limitations of her condition the Bangladesh women studied to be a tailor and started a business to train women and girls affected by leprosy. Sabittri has trained over 100 women, empowering them and in the process helping to reduce leprosy stigma in the community.

Bridgitte Jordan, 32, SPAIN

Bridgitte suffered from Chaga in Bolivia before moving to Spain where she was eventually diagnosed and treated. Determined to help other people facing the same symptoms and challenges, she studied to become a Health agent and Patient advocate.

Birke Nigatu, 61,  ETHIOPIA

Birke suffered from leprosy since she was just six years old. Although she is now cured, more than 50 years later she is still affected by long-term disabilities. Birke was excluded from formal education and severely stigmatised, but she saved money to attend hospital and went on to launch an embroidery business for other women affected by leprosy.

Women in Focus - Community Champion Award  

(For women working at the community level, such as community directed distributors, teachers, environment assistants and community health workers who have made a remarkable impact in their work linked to NTDs)

Susan Nkirote Mbabu, KENYA

Susan is committed to identifying people who need trichiasis surgery and making sure they get the treatment they need. She also volunteers to find TB defaulters, is a children's rights campaigner and secretary for a local disability CBO in Kenya. Susan teaches all day before heading out for home visits in the evening. She appreciates the vital need for counselling, not just for patients but also their families and carers. She personally supports many women through surgery and readjusting to their new lives post treatment, often working for weeks on end without pay.

Sunita Devi, 53, INDIA

Sunita is dedicated to the improving health services in India offering better immunisation programmes, polio eradication and morbidity management.  She sees health awareness among school children as vital and

Triatoma barberi

Triatoma barberi

Image by Arturo Zepeda

participates in several school programmes herself. Sunita is outspoken in favour of human rights, women's rights, and the reintegration of people affected by leprosy into their communities.

Nancy Komakech, UGANDA

Nancy is vocal about poor quality data and the detrimental effect it has on identifying and treating NTDs. She works tirelessly in local villages across Uganda helping them to compile good treatment data, utilising local faith and community groups to act as advocates for NTD awareness.

Agnes Ochai, NIGERIA

Agnes is a farmer with a skin disease, often known as leopard skin because of the depigmentation patterns it causes. She was sadly shunned by her community and abandoned by her husband, but Agnes needed to stay strong for her two young children. She used her own experience to start helping other people in her village, becoming a Community Drug Distributor, reaching out to other women in risk of exclusion. Agnes is i selfless and has shown unwavering personal courage and strength in unimaginably hard circumstances.

Women in Focus - Exceptional Service Award  

(For women working for NGOs or community-based organisations who have made a significant contribution towards NTD control and elimination)

Dhekra Annuzaili, 49, YEMEN

Since graduating medical school in Yemen, Dr. Dhekra Annuzaili has been committed to her work on maternal and child health development programmes across the country, specialising in schistosomiasis control, also known as snail fever.  As a woman working in a country with one of the highest gender inequality rankings in the world, Dhekra has overcome extreme personal obstacles, yet her commitment to Neglected Tropical Disease control and serving Yemen never waivered. With her support, Yemen’s National Schistosomiasis Control Programme has made great strides towards controlling schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.

Luz Stella Losada, 50s, BOLIVIA

With a master’s degree in health professional education, Luz has dedicated her career to helping the most vulnerable members of society affected by Chagas STH Rabies. She works around the clock every day viewing her "job" as a way of life for her and her whole family. Luz has trained over 1,200 health workers to develop knowledge and skills in NTD diagnosis and management.  It is not just a job it is her life force and part of her soul.

Julie Akane, 56, CAMEROON

Julie is one of the major figures leading Cameroon towards the elimination of lymphatic filariasis and trachoma by 2020. With a higher nurse degree in public health, she has contributed to many training manuals and co-authored major papers on NTD mapping in the country. Julie is also a consultant for WHO in AFRO region for training, assessment and sustainability of community directed treatment projects.

Uche Amazigo, NIGERIA

Uche is the first and only female Director of the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. Under her leadership APOC surpassed its initial objectives, increased its geographical scope and exceeded its target reach in sub-Saharan Africa.

Women in Focus – Leadership Award (in honor of Likezo Mubila)  

(For women working at the health center, sub-national or national level who have given exceptional service towards NTD control and elimination)

Edridah, 51, UGANDA

Edridah has dedicated her career to tackling NTDs, working for more than 20 years in the field. Currently working for the vector control division at the Ministry of Health, Edridah is also a WHO advisor to Ghana and Eritrea. With Edridah’s help, Uganda became one of the first countries to introduce an integrated approach to tackiling NTDs, not just stand alone programmes. She operates an open door policy and makes sure that opportunities are provided to more junior staff so that they too can build their skills and strengthen work in NTDs across Uganda. Ediridah is often seen working in the field and her top priority is always the health and safety of Ugandans which she places ahead of her own personal gain.

Ifeoma Anagbogu, 55, NIGERIA

Ifeoma’s dedicated service has helped to earn Nigeria certification as a guinea worm disease-free country by WHO. She is leading one of the most challenging NTD control and elimination programmes in the continent and has introduced several innovations in programme management to drive the NTD Programme to even higher levels.

Valsa Augustine, INDIA

Valsa has been working for more than 25 years helping to identify and manage NTDs in India. During this time she has helped to create rehabilitation programmes for patients and introduced vital vocational training for people affected by leprosy including printing, tailoring, embroidery, pottery and carpet weaving.

Dr. Muth Sinoun, CAMBODIA

Helping to ensure that the most vulnerable children in Cambodia are no longer at risk for NTDs is the major inspiration behind the dedicated career of Dr. Muth Sinuon, Head of the NTD Program of the National Center for Malaria Control, Parasitology, and Entomology (CNM), she forged links with the water, sanitation, and animal health sectors in Cambodia to develop a comprehensive plan to eliminate schistosomiasis.

Uniting to Combat NTDs is a collective of invested, interested and dedicated partners, working to fulfil the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases


  1. Uniting to Combat NTDs, the World Health Organization and the NTD community are hosting the NTD Summit in Geneva, Switzerland in April 2017

  2. The NTD summit recognizes achievements over the past 5 years and addresses plans for the future in order to control, eliminate and eradicate 10 neglected tropical diseases.

  3. The Women in Focus awards are a new initiative to help mark the 5 year milestone of WHO’s roadmap on NTDs and recognize the inspiring women helping to make the goals a reality

  4. There are four categories:

Inspirational Award: Women who have been affected by NTDs themselves and have made significant contributions in supporting others.

Community Champion Award: Women working at the community level, such as community directed distributors, teachers, environment assistants and community health workers who have made a remarkable impact in their work linked to NTDs.

Exceptional Service: Women working for NGOs or community-based organizations who have made a significant contribution towards NTD control and elimination.

Leadership Award: Women working at the health center, sub-national or national level who have given exceptional service towards NTD control and elimination.

  1. The inaugural Women in Focus Awards are dedicated to Dr Likezo Mubila who dedicated her career to fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases

  2. Award winners will be announced on 19 April 2017

  3. Full details on the awards are available at

  4. Drawing inspiration from the World Health Organization (WHO) “Roadmap for Implementation”, which outlined bold targets for the control, elimination or eradication of 17 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by 2020, leaders of several prominent global health and development organizations, together with industry partners, met in London in 2012 and pledged to unite in their efforts to support the achievement of the WHO 2020 goals in respect to 10 NTDs. These collective promises of support where formalized into the London Declaration on NTDs.


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