Four laureates awarded UN Population Fund’s highest honour

2 May 2007 – For the first time in its 17-year history, the United Nations Population Award is being bestowed upon four laureates, two individuals and two institutions, for their contributions to work in population, health and welfare.

This year’s honourees, selected from 29 nominees from around the world, are Allen Rosenfield, a professor at Columbia University in New York; Hossein Malek Afzali, Deputy Minister for Research and Technology with the Iranian Government; the Algerian National Population Committee; and Malaysia’s National Population and Family Development Board.

The four winners were selected by Population Award Committee, administered by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), is comprised of 10 Member States, elected by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNFPA’s Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid are ex-officio members of the Committee as well.

According to information sent to the Award Committee, Dr. Rosenfield co-wrote a seminal paper on maternal death which appeared in the British medical journal The Lancet in 1985, and as a result, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation established the Averting Maternal Death and Disability programme which supports projects in 50 countries. He has worked in matters pertaining to reproductive health, women’s health and human rights, and been involved in high-level advocacy efforts, having served on the boards of several organizations and in advisory groups for the UN Millennium Project, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), among others.

Dr. Afzali works in Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education, and has helped design strategies to improve health procedures, particularly adolescent health, reproductive health and family planning. In the field of reproductive health, he has engaged policymakers and religious leaders in the planning and implementation of reproductive health programmes in Iran.

The Algerian National Population Committee, established in 1996, advises the Government on formulating population policies and incorporating the population issues into social and economic development schemes. The group has also helped to introduce population as a subject to be taught in schools and sponsored key research on fertility.

The National Population and Family Development Board of Malaysia has been active since 1966, and conducts socio-demographic research and monitors population trends to create awareness among policymakers, according to information given to the Awards Committee. It focuses on family development and on the promotion of family well-being, and provides services including infertility treatment, early cancer detection screenings and special programmes for adolescents.

Each winner will each receive a diploma, a gold medal and an equal share of a monetary prize, and the Award will be presented at a ceremony in New York early next month.

Last year’s winners were Halida Hanum Akhter, a pioneering family planning doctor from Bangladesh, and the Fondation pour la Sante Reproductive e l’Education Familiale, a major reproductive health foundation in Haiti.

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