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Nigeria has not detected any cases of wild polio virus for over two and a half years and may be certified WPV free by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2020.

In honour of those combating the polio scourge in Nigeria, the 2019 REACH (Recognizing Excellence around Champions of Health) Awards has now opened for nominations to recognize frontline health workers and innovators who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and commitment to eliminate global diseases.

The Awards were established by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and will be presented at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi in November.

Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, undersecretary of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, said: “In many communities around the world, especially the most vulnerable and poor, frontline health workers are the only source of health care”.

“Through their efforts, millions of lives are saved and enhanced, strengthening families and societies. With gratitude for the efforts of these committed workers, as well as global health innovators and champions, we announce that nominations are now open for the 2019 REACH Awards.”

The REACH Awards aim to recognize stories of unsung achievement in global health and disease elimination – and raise awareness of the role of the frontline health worker and game-changing innovator within the larger global health community.

“Often making heroic sacrifices, frontline health workers are leading the charge to eliminate the world’s most deadly and debilitating diseases,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said.

“Together with scientists, advocates and other innovators, these inspiring individuals are defending everyone’s right to attain the highest standard of health.”

The 2019 REACH Awards will be judged by jury of prominent leaders from across global health disciplines.

The panel will include, among other eminent personalities; Baron Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie; Lord Kakkar PC, professor of surgery University College and director Thrombosis Research Institute London UK; Christopher Elias, president of the Global Development Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The call for nominations for the 2019 REACH Awards was launched at the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

Nominations can be made in three categories at www.reachingthelastmile.com and must be submitted by July 12, 2019.

Award recipients will be announced at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi on November 19, a biennial convening where global health leaders share insights and best practice on how to map out, eliminate and eradicate infectious diseases.

The REACH Awards were first established in 2017. Past Awards include the Lifetime Achievement Award to Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States and Founder of the Carter Center, for the Carter Center’s role at the forefront of combatting the Guinea worm disease.

Nigeria’s Adamu Keana Sallau, director for Integrated Health Programs in the Imo/Abia States for The Carter Center in Nigeria was also awarded the Last Mile Award for his role in the Nigeria Guinea Worm Eradication Program for over a decade, until the disease was eliminated in the country in 2008.


The 2019 REACH Awards will recognize individuals working on a wide range of diseases and workers from interdisciplinary teams.

The categories include:

The Unsung Hero Award: This honours an extraordinary individual who has played a transformative, frontline role in the field of disease elimination, but has been under-recognized for their efforts.

The Game Changing Innovator Award: This recognises an individual who has developed and implemented a creative technology or practice in support of disease elimination, acknowledging the need to constantly innovate in the field.

The new Rising Champion Award: This recognises an individual who is championing a cause related to disease elimination, acknowledging the significant impact that can be made through advocacy – from shifting attitudes around disease and treatment to working with governments to evolve policies.

The Lifetime Achievement Award: An individual who has dedicated his or her career to disease elimination will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

More than one billion people around the world, especially in remote areas, lack access to healthcare due to weak health systems, and limited access to facilities and trained health workers.

Frontline health care workers play a critical role in reaching the most remote communities, often the last stronghold for preventable, infectious diseases.

But given the on-the-ground nature of their work, these skilled and committed individuals are often overlooked.

The World Health Assembly recognized this week the importance of frontline workers through the adoption of resolutions on community health workers and primary health care.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) leadership’s dedication to disease elimination builds on the commitment of the late Zayed Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, and has since continued through a series of contributions from Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, and Mohamed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

Since 2011, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi has personally committed $250 million to global efforts to eliminate deadly and debilitating diseases.

 

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