The 38th WHO Sasakawa Health Prize Award Ceremony

Venue: Geneva, Switzerland

Dr. Paisan Ruamviboonsuk, I would like to extend to you my heartfelt congratulations as the recipient of the thirty eighth Sasakawa Health Prize. I am also very pleased that we are able to attend this award ceremony together/ face-to-face for the first time in three years/ made possible by the efforts of WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom and WHO staff.  
This Health Prize was established by my late father, Ryoichi Sasakawa, in nineteen eighty four.
It was based on his belief that promotion of primary health care is essential for improving the health of all humanity. Since then, this award has recognized individuals and organizations engaging in innovative efforts to improve people’s health and, at the same time, establishing greater equity in health through the promotion of primary health care.

Distinguished participants, this year’s recipient, Dr. Ruamviboonsuk, as an eye specialist,/has worked tirelessly to combat blindness among diabetics, a serious problem particularly in rural areas In the world today, 
One hundred million people have no access to cataract surgery.
Seven hundred million people have no access to eyeglasses.
One billion people could have avoided the loss of eyesight.

The grading method he established for screening and detecting blindness, as well as his training of health care professionals, saved many from blindness in Thailand with a profound impact on health enhancement in the country. For example, the Thai Ministry of Public Health
now offers free screening tests for patients with risk of becoming blind from diabetes. I would like to express my respect to Dr. Ruamviboonsuk for going as far as improving Thailand’s health system through the practice of primary health care. It is indeed an honor for me to present this prize.
I myself, as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, I have visited one hundred and twenty-two countries over the years in the effort of eliminating leprosy. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, ministers of health and others around the world have joined me in these efforts in the spirit of “Don’t Forget Leprosy.” As one also working towards our shared goal of “health for all,” I would again like to congratulate Dr. Ruamviboonsuk  and wish him every success for the future. Thank you very much.