WHO India honours Public Health Champions

The scope of the awards covers contribution to significant advances in population and person focused services and inter-sectoral actions


New Delhi: At a national consultation organized jointly with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India to commemorate the World Health Day 2017, the WHO Country Office for India gave out awards for Public Health Champions.

Highlighting the importance of the Public Health Champions awards, Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India said, “Public health is key to improving people’s health and positive health outcomes. These awards are our attempt to recognize and honour talented individuals and organizations who toil hard to bring about impactful, innovative and sustainable changes in public health. We do hope that these awards will encourage others to emulate them.”

The rationale for recognizing Public Health Champions is to honour efforts of both, individuals and institutions who have made an outstanding contribution to public health through advocacy for and involvement in impactful health policies and programmes with proven public health achievements and substantial improvement in equitable health outcomes in the country.

image002 (2)The award winners were Dr Chandrakant S. Pandav, Lok Biradari Prakalp and CanSupport for sustainable contribution to public health; Armman was the winner in the innovation category. Dr Vandana Gopikumar received the award for exemplary work in the area of mental health.

The awards comprise two categories: sustained contribution in the field of public health and innovation. The scope of the awards covers contribution to significant advances in population and person focused services and inter-sectoral actions. In addition, contributions that have assisted WHO in performing any one of its six core functions are taken into consideration.

A brief on the Public Health Champions:

Dr Chandrakant S. Pandav, a public health academician and researcher with over 30 years experience, is a well-known personality in the health sector in India. Dr Pandav is former Professor and Head of the Department, Centre for Community Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India.

Lok Biradari Prakalp was founded by  social worker late Baba Amte in 1973. Located in the dense forests of Central India, Dr Prakash and Dr Mandakini Amte and volunteers strove hard to gain trust of the Madia-Gond tribals who distrusted the civilized population and believed in witchcraft. Community health workers trained by Lok Biradari Praklp provide primary health care to remote villages and advocate good health practices.

CanSupport was started in 1996 by Harmala Gupta, a cancer survivor. She realized that cancer patients whose treatment had failed, required ongoing compassionate care that was both appropriate and affordable. In 1997, CanSupport began a home care programme, the first of its kind, to bring medical and nursing care and psycho-social support, free of charge, to the doorstep of those living with advanced cancers in Delhi and the NCR. Today, it  has approximately 2000 concurrent patients under its care. CanSupport is fast emerging as a training service provider in palliative care.

Dr Vandana Gopikumar (with her friend and partner Vaishnavi Jayakumar) founded The Banyan in 1993, and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) in 2007. The Banyan’s goals include enabling access to mental health and social care for the most vulnerable of homeless and poor persons, particularly women in distress. It has serviced close to 10 000 persons living in low socio-economic strata through its clinics and outreach and provided in-patient care to over 2000 persons.

ARMMAN’s mission is to implement evidence-based sustainable interventions to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbidity. It makes innovative use of technology and has touched over 1 500 000 lives in seven states. This includes mMitra, a free voice call and animation film service; an integrated mother and child high risk factor tracking system with SMS based high risk alerts for ANMs; HERO (Helpline for Emergency Response Operations), a real-time updated information system for ICU beds and blood; and Arogya Sakhi program that converts village women into health entrepreneurs providing home based antenatal and infancy care.