WHO Director-General announces Global Health Leader Awards

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will present two Lifetime Achievement Awards during the high-level opening session of the 76th World Health Assembly to recognize outstanding contributions to global health progress .

Created in 2019, the Executive Director’s Global Leader Award goes to Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum and Peter Piot. Both laureates are eminent scientists and public health leaders who were closely involved in the discovery of Ebola before taking leadership positions in global health. This award honors their lifetime achievements in public health.

Professor Muyembe Tamfum, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is recognized for his innovation, leadership and groundbreaking contributions to the management and treatment of diseases such as Ebola virus disease. He has played a key role in improving health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the African region and the international community. Professor Muyembe Tamfum is Director of the National Biomedical Institute of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Kinshasa, Full Professor of Microbiology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kinshasa, and the first President of the Congolese Academy of Sciences.

Professor Muyembe Tamfum was part of the team that discovered the Zaire Ebola virus during the first recorded epidemic in 1976 in Equateur Province, central Democratic Republic of the Congo. He subsequently helped design one of the first effective treatments against the virus and the deployment of an experimental Ebola virus disease vaccine. He has worked tirelessly to build the scientific capacity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, established several research facilities in the country and played a key role for WHO in fighting infectious diseases.

A native of Belgium, Professor Piot is known for his extraordinary leadership in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other major global health challenges. He has played a key role in launching UNAIDS, the Global Fund and other major global health initiatives to improve health outcomes around the world. Under his leadership, UNAIDS has become an advocate for the global response to AIDS, and he spearheaded UN reform, bringing together ten different UN agencies.

Professor Piot also participated in local epidemiological investigations, contributing to the early discovery of the Ebola virus and the containment of the first known epidemic.

He has chaired numerous high-level initiatives, has served in numerous high-level advisory roles, including on COVID-19, and has received multiple awards.

Professor Piot is Special Advisor to the President of the EC, Professor of Global Health and former Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “These outstanding individuals embody a lifelong commitment, relentless advocacy, commitment to equity and selfless service to humanity and human health.” said. “In this time of emergencies, health crises and conflicts, we recognize that public health and scientific leadership are more important than ever to advance global health. It embodies passion.”

“Together, their stories and successes show how far the world has come in terms of working together at the global, regional and national levels to strengthen preparedness, response and resilience to health emergencies. These brilliant scientists continue to inspire us every day,” he added.

The award ceremony will take place as part of the high-level opening session of the 76th World Health Assembly to be held in Geneva on Sunday 21 May 2023.

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