Dr. Oviemu Otu Ovadje, a Nigerian, was among outstanding individuals and institutions who were recognized for their contributions in the field of health and development at the Fifty- third session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization. The awards were presented at a special ceremony in May.
Dr. Ovadje was one of those who received the Sasakawa Health Prize awarded for exceptional achievements. The award was for his invention of an Emergency Auto-Transfusion Set (EATSET), which is a very simple blood-saving device, which efficiently replaces the gauze filtration technique used in developing countries. The device is an excellent example of appropriate technology relevant to the needs of developing countries.
Successful clinical trials in 1999 confirmed its efficacy for patients with ruptured ectopic pregnancies and life-threatening intraperitoneal bleeding. Dr. Ovadje said he would use the prize money to increase the scope of current clinical trials and to conduct parallel studies in hospitals in India, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Other winners of the Sasakawa Health Prize were Dr. Yoav Horn of Israel for his work in the field of cancer research and treatment and care of cancer patients in Israel and in the West Bank as well as the Family Planning Association (PLAFAM) of Venezuela which has been working to promote family planning and to improve sexual and reproductive health particularly among the poor in Venezuela.
During the ceremony, the United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize was awarded jointly to Dr. Roemwerdiniadi Soedoko of Indonesia and the Institute of Nursing in Myanmar. The Dr. A. T. Shousha Foundation Prize was awarded to Dr. Seyed Alizera Marandi from the Islamic Republic of Iran while the Jacques Parisot Foundation Fellowship was awarded to Dr. Laura Papantoniou from Cyprus.
“VISION 2020” LAUNCHED IN ENGLISH SPEAKING AFRICA
In English-speaking Africa, an estimated 3-4 million blind and 10-12 million visually impaired people will benefit from “VISION 2020: the Right to Sight” – a worldwide initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. More than 60% of them suffer from cataracts.
Major efforts, coordinated nationally, regionally and internationally, will be made to restore eyesight in these people while preventing many others from becoming blind, said WHO and a group of international non-governmental development organizations (NGDOs) at the VISION 2020 sub-regional launch in Johannesburg in April.
To achieve these objectives, the VISION 2020 group, in close cooperation with African health authorities, will work to increase the number of adequately trained national eye-care personnel; ease access to ophthalmologic services for populations in low income brackets, particularly in rural areas; facilitate the transfer of appropriate sight-saving technologies to African countries; as well as develop and implement cost-effective national strategies for blindness prevention. In its initial stage, the emphasis in VISION 2020 will be placed on awareness-raising and resource mobilization.
DR. SAMBA CALLS FOR BETTER FUNDING FOR HEALTH SYSTEMS
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Ebrahim Samba has reiterated the importance of adequate financing for health systems and called on African Heads of State to redeem their pledge to allocate at least 15 per cent of their national budgets to the health sector.
Speaking in Harare at the end of a Regional consultative meeting on health system performance assessment, Dr. Samba urged countries to strive to create conditions conducive to the strengthening of their health systems by the judicious management of resources especially finances, and also by ensuring that health sector workers were motivated.
“Health systems are the vehicles through which health problems such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are resolved . . . it is therefore important that countries have strong health systems as this would enable them to more effectively handle these and other diseases”, he added.