Egyptian doctor, Nicaraguan NGO receive top honours from UN

24 February 2009 – An Egyptian doctor and a Nicaraguan non-governmental organization (NGO) have been awarded this year’s United Nations Population Award, which recognizes outstanding work in population and health.

Mahmoud Fathalla and Movimiento Comunal Nicaragüense (MCN) were chosen from 18 nominees by an Award Committee headed by Hamdon Ali, Malaysia’s Ambassador to the UN, and comprising 10 UN Member States.

Dr. Fathalla, according to a press release from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), is a renowned doctor and professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Assist University in Egypt, and also works as a manager, adviser and advocate for family planning, reproductive health and safe motherhood.

In 1974, he founded the Egyptian Fertility Care Society, one of the first family planning organizations in the Arab world. The winner of many honours, he has also advised both national and international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

MCN was created in 1978 and seeks to boost living conditions in Nicaragua through social and community development, gender equality and environmental protection. Working in 120 municipalities and 2,000 local communities, it mobilizes some 20,000 people such as community leaders, teachers and midwives.

Most recently, the NGO has centred on young people, aiming to improve gender relations, wipe out violence, prevent sexually transmitted infections (Sties) and reduce teen pregnancies.

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elects countries to the Award Committee to serve three-year terms, and the current members are: Algeria, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, Iran, Malaysia, Peru, Sweden and Tanzania. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid are ex-officio members.

The winners will receive their awards – a diploma and a gold medal – in New York on 1 June.


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