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21 May 2015, GENEVA- Director-General Dr Margaret Chan and the President of the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly, Dr Jagat Prakash Nadda, today led the World Health Assembly's annual awards ceremony, presenting four prizes to leaders in public health.


The Sasakawa Health Prize was given to the Childbirth with Dignity Foundation, which has helped transform the field of obstetrics in Poland. Women are now able to be accompanied by their partner during childbirth. They may also have visitors following delivery and are no longer separated from their babies. The Foundation proposes to use the prize money to continue, and further develop, its web-portal "" (""), which includes a database of hospitals and maternity wards in Poland and provides information to expecting parents, and to maintain the Foundation's database of hospitals.

The United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize went to another Polish foundation, "Akogo?". The Foundation provides free inpatient rehabilitation assistance to children with severe traumatic brain injury. It works on many levels, through social and educational activities, to increase awareness and foster cooperation between different groups working on the issue. "Akogo" also runs the "Alarm clock" Clinic — Poland's first specialized hospital for children in coma. In the Clinic's first 16 months, 12 children have woken from a coma and significant improvements have been observed in most other patients.

The State of Kuwait Prize for Research in Health was awarded to Dr Alla Eldien Mohamed El Ghamrawy of Egypt, for his personal contribution to the creation of the National Programme for Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD). This includes countrywide training programmes for health care professionals, such as physicians, paediatricians and community workers. Since the establishment of the programme, studies have shown a notable decrease in the incidence of heart operations due to rheumatic heart disease.

This year's Dr Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health was presented to the Thalassaemia International Federation based in Nicosia, Cyprus. The Federation aims to improve the survival and quality of life of patients with thalassemia around the world. In just over 25 years, it has established 117 National Thalassaemia Associations in 57 countries and organized numerous influential national, regional and international conferences, seminars and workshops.