Four women honoured for fight against neglected tropical diseases
FANTASTIC FOUR RECEIVE CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR THEIR FIGHT AGAINST
NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES
Last night the inaugural Women in Focus Awards took place in Geneva, Switzerland with Uganda, Nigeria and Yemen celebrating the great achievement and recognition of its women in this global award.
As 2017 marks the 5th anniversary of the World Health Organization’s roadmap on NTDs and the London Declaration, the Women in Focus Awards celebrated this milestone by shining a light on the inspirational women working on the frontline helping to control, eliminate and eradicate 10 neglected tropical diseases.
--------- MEET THE WINNERS ----------
Women in Focus - Inspirational Award
(For women who have been affected by NTDs themselves and have made significant contributions in supporting others)
Grace Aciro Oyat, 54, Abera Village, Lamwo District, UGANDA
Grace began volunteering as a community drug distributor in 2007. This was during a challenging period of LRA insurgency in Uganda, which saw large populations living in congested camps, occupied by internally displaced persons. Grace was the only woman working in these hard to reach conflict affected areas. When her son was affected by river blindness, Grace’s family wanted him to be treated with traditional medicine but Grace ensured that her son was treated with Mectizan® and by treating her own son, she gained the trust of her community. Grace realised that her son was suffering from river blindness through the knowledge she had gained whilst volunteering in the river blindness program, going on to inspire others to volunteer in a similar vital role. Grace has spearheaded health education campaigns and helped establish outreach posts for the assessment of children affected by neglected tropical diseases.
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)
Agnes Ochai, Ette in Igboeze North LGA, Enugu, NIGERIA
Agnes Ochai occupies a position of great importance in the global fight against onchocerciasis. Beginning sometime in the 1980s, Agnes began to suffer from onchocercal infection, and over the years the parasites destroyed her skin, causing indescribable itching and severe depigmentation, in patterns often called “leopard skin” because of their striking contrasts. This form of onchocerciasis is highly stigmatized, which was unfortunately the personal lot of Agnes, who was shunned by her community and some family members. 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 at risk of exclusion. Agnes is incredibly selfless and has shown unwavering personal courage and strength in unimaginably hard circumstances.
Women in Focus – Leadership Award (In honour 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, Bulindo, Kampala, UGANDA
Edridah has dedicated her career to tackling NTDs, working for over 20 years in the field. With Edridah’s help, Uganda became one of the first countries to introduce an integrated approach to tackling 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. Edridah 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. Edridah is currently working in the Vector Control Division at the Ministry of Health in Uganda and is also a WHO advisor for Ghana and Eritrea.
Women in Focus - Exceptional Service Award
(For women working for NGOs or community-based organizations who have made a significant contribution towards NTD control and elimination)
Dhekra Annuzaili, 49, Sanaa, YEMEN
Since graduating from medical school in 1991, in Yemen, Dr. Dhekra Annuzaili has shown incredible commitment to her work on maternal and child health development, improving overall health and nutritional programmes across the country. Dr Dhekra moved to the field of NTDs, in 2009, specialising in Schistosomiasis Control, also known as snail fever. As a woman working in a country with one of the lowest rankings of gender equality in the world, Dhekra has overcome extreme personal obstacles and yet her commitment to Neglected Tropical Disease control and in serving Yemen never wavered. With her support, Yemen’s National Schistosomiasis Control Program has made great strides towards controlling schistosomiasis and intestinal worms. Dhekra also works as an advisor on health and development issues for several agencies of the United Nations, USAID, World Bank and local NGOs in Yemen.
The Women in Focus Awards are a prestigious, global initiative celebrating the crucial role women play in the ongoing fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases all over the world, a role which often goes unrecognized and unrewarded. All four inspirational women above were invited to accept their awards at the awards ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland last night.
Dr. Wendy Harrison, Chair of the NNN, says: “We are thrilled to shine a light on women from all over the world who are making a remarkable impact on tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases. It is an honor to acknowledge Grace, Agnes, Edridah and Dhekra for the inspirational work they are doing in exceptionally challenging circumstances. The standard of entries in the competition was incredibly high so they should be justifiably proud of their achievements.”
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 prestigious ceremony on April 19.
Uniting to Combat NTDs is a collective of invested, interested and dedicated partners, working to fulfil the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases
The NTD summit recognizes achievements over the past 5 years since the WHO Roadmap on NTDs and the London Declaration was signed, and addresses plans for the future in order to control, eliminate and eradicate 10 neglected tropical diseases.
The Women in Focus awards are a new initiative to help mark the 5 year milestone of the London Declaration on NTDs and recognizes the inspiring women helping to make the goals a reality
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.
The Women in Focus Awards will see the launch of a new awards dedicated to Dr Likezo Mubila who devoted her career to fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases
Award winners will be announced on 19 April 2017
Full details on the awards are available at http://unitingtocombatntds.org/awards-ntd-summit-2017
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.