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A Moroccan Woman Among The 2002 Global Health Council Annual Award Recipients




Dr. Fatima-Zohra Akalay, country director for Helen Keller International (HKI, a division of Helen Keller Worldwide) in Morocco

The award for Best Practices in Global Health is given to celebrate and highlight the efforts of an individual in the field dedicated to improving the health of disadvantaged and disenfranchised populations and to recognize programs that effectively demonstrate the link between health, poverty and development.

Recipients of the award are selected for their ability to demonstrate measurable results in the field, as well as the ability and expertise to share, inspire and extend best practices for improving health.

This year, the Global Health Council is honored to present this award to a remarkable individual, Dr. Fatima-Zohra Akalay, country director for Helen Keller International (HKI, a division of Helen Keller Worldwide) in Morocco

The Global Health Council recently presented the 2002 recipients of our global health annual awards at a special Awards Banquet during the annual conference, Global Health in Times of Crisis. The event took place on May 30, 2002.

Today, hundreds of Moroccan women are literate and thousands of children enjoy
better health because of the efforts of one woman, Dr. Fatima-Zohra Akalay. Also
known as "Madame Akalay," Dr. Akalay has brought many partners from within and outside of the Moroccan government together in her crusade for the empowerment of, often illiterate, women, as she believes that building this capacity is important in creating sustainable health programs.

A native of Morocco, Dr. Akalay has been with Helen Keller Worldwide since 1986, when she developed the primary eye care project that brought Helen Keller
International to Morocco. Her experience and superb personal and leadership skills have enabled her to foster and maintain a productive working relationship between Helen Keller International and the Moroccan Ministry of Health--a joint venture that has greatly benefited the Moroccan people.

But Dr. Akalay's legacy reaches far beyond that of good eye-health. The prime motivation of Dr. Akalay is the empowerment of often-illiterate Moroccan women. Within the poorest areas of Morocco, only 11 percent of women are literate. Trachoma is a disease strongly associated with poverty because it is found most often in areas with unsanitary living conditions.

However, pamphlets and posters notifying citizens of health practices are of no use if the target audience is illiterate. With this in mind, Dr. Akalay conceived of a unique and innovative program that incorporates health education into the national literacy program. Her creativity, commitment to health, leadership and dedication has not only provided thousands of children with appropriate health, it has also provided women with tools to better care for and provide for their families, communities and country.

The annual awards included:
- The Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health & Human Rights
- Best Practices in Global Health
- Global Health Photography Award

The Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health & Human Rights: Two Jerusalem medical workers, one Israeli and one Palestinian, working side-by-side to administer health care and medical treatment during the bloody West Bank conflict, have been singled out to receive the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights for 2002.

Dr. Ruchama Marton and Salah Haj Yehya, who operate a mobile clinic to serve Palestinian Civilians - often by foot to maneuver past military blockades -- were officially informed of their selection during a telephone conference today by Dr. Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council.

The Mann Award is bestowed annually in honor of the late Dr. Jonathan Mann to an active practitioner carrying out in practice a commitment to health and rights, often at great personal danger.

Each previous winner has been selected for similar health and human rights efforts under stressful, oppressive and often violent conditions. With the help of the Award, each has had remarkable impact on the delivery of health care and the protection of human dignity in their respective countries, including China, Kosovo and Myanmar.

In the case of Dr. Ruchama Marton, she is founder of the 14-year old Israeli-Palestinian Association of Physicians for Human Rights. Together with her Palestinian associate, Mr. Yehya, they have confronted violations of health and human rights on both sides of the 1967 borders and campaign for free passage of Palestinian medical goods, patients and medical personnel to and from medical centers in the occupied territories.

Working to bridge the deep divides of the Middle East, Dr. Marton has spoken before the Knessett and met with Yasser Arafat during his confinement in Ramallah. Mr. Yehya coordinates passage of patients to and from medical centers within the Occupied Territories. Despite the hostilities, he has coordinated for Palestinian organizations the passage of medical supplies, medicines, equipment and evacuating ambulances by corresponding with Israeli military authorities and international organizations.

The two winners of the 2002 Mann Award, selected from nearly 100 nominees, are compelling voices for peace and reconciliation, and offer the greatest hope for a humane resolution of the current Middle East conflict. "In a region where violence and counter- violence have become the norm, it takes individuals of true courage to make the protection of health and human dignity the centerpiece of hope for a humane and peaceful future," Dr. Daulaire said in a telephone conference to Israel Wednesday. "Their dedication is surpassed only by their courage to pursue the ideals established by Jonathan Mann."

Dr. Marton and Mr. Yehya have faced enormous political and physical barriers in their work to provide the health care guaranteed under Israeli law and often denied to the Palestinian population. When an individual who seeks treatment at the clinic is in obvious need of a referral to a specialist, Marton and Yehya advocate for the patient, trying to obtain safe passage and treatment at the appropriate facility. Because this often involves negotiations with Israeli soldiers at checkpoints their passage is frequently denied. There have been several instances of children dying because they were denied access to care.
The actual presentation of the award will be made during the Global Health Council's annual awards banquet on Thursday, May 30 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. At that time, the second annual $1 million Gates Award for Global Health as well as the Excellence in Media Award will also be announced.

Best Practices in Global Health: The award for Best Practices in Global Health is given to celebrate and highlight the efforts of an individual in the field dedicated to improving the
health of disadvantaged and disenfranchised populations and to recognize programs that effectively demonstrate the link between health, poverty and development. Recipients of the award are selected for their ability to demonstrate measurable results in the field, as well as the ability and expertise to share, inspire and extend best practices for improving health. This year, the Global Health Council is honored to present this award to a remarkable
individual,

Dr. Fatima-Zohra Akalay, country director for Helen Keller International (HKI, a division of Helen Keller Worldwide) in Morocco.

Global Health Photography Award: The 2002 Photography Award winner is Girish J. Kingar. Mr. Kingar started amateur photography in 1990 as he was encouraged by his father who was very fond of traveling and going to different places of natural beauty and historical importance. He started participating in various competitions in 1991 and has won 31 international photo competitions as well as the Ministry of Human Resource Development - All India Photo Contest in 1997. Mr. Kingar has a Masters of Commerce degree.

Source: Global Health Council (Washington, DC)



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