WHO Sasakawa Health Prize Award Ceremony

Geneva, Switzerland

I am delighted to be able to speak on the 25th anniversary of the Sasakawa Health Prize.

The Sasakawa Health Prize was established in 1984 and embodies the WHO’s principle of “health for all.”

The right to health, along with the right to eat and to have an education, is a basic human right.

But above all, health is vital to the enjoyment of all other rights.

Primary healthcare is a particularly important sector because it reaches so many people. It addresses the fundamental causes of ill health.

The Sasakawa Health Prize recognizes the achievements of individuals or groups active in the field of primary healthcare.

This year’s winner is Dr. Amal Abdurrahman Al Jowder of Bahrain.

Dr. Al Jowder started her career as a family doctor at the East Riffa Health Center in Bahrain in 1985, later moving to the ministry of health’s health education section. Her career has spanned almost the entire history of the Sasakawa Health Prize.

I should like to single out two reasons in particular why Dr. Al Jowder deserves praise:

First, she attaches great importance to seeing that people receive proper health information. She has worked hard to see that this information is broadcast via TV and radio. Spreading knowledge about health is vital for disease prevention and early diagnosis. For this, the cooperation of the media is essential.

This is something I know about from my work as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination. In leprosy, social stigma and the discrimination it causes are still prevalent. To eradicate this stigma, it is very important to work with the media, publicizing the true facts about the disease

The second reason for which Dr. Al Jowder is to be commended is for the way she has fostered links with other ministries and other sectors. She doesn’t confine herself to the health ministry, but cooperates with other health experts, municipalities, regional centers and schools to promote primary healthcare.

This is what it takes to see that social change reaches every part of the community. Beginning with the media, there needs to be cooperation with every sector of society, including NGOs, schools and businesses.

One of the unique aspects of the Sasakawa Health Prize is that the prize money is to be used to further the recipient’s work. I understand that Dr. Al Jowder intends to invest the money in two buses: an education bus and a sports bus. Both of these busses will tour remote areas of the country, reaching the people living there with health information and basic sports equipment

My congratulations to Dr. Al Jowder, and may her work go from strength to strength.