A Catholic priest and a non-profit organization specializing in maternal health have been named the winners of the 2014 United Nations Population Award. The General Assembly established the award in 1981 to recognize outstanding achievement in the fields of population and health.
Father Aldo Marchesini of Italy, who is also a medical doctor, has been involved with population issues for 43 years. He went to Mozambique in 1974 to serve the most impoverished areas, often as the only medical doctor working with limited resources. He started treating obstetric fistula soon after his arrival and remained the only medical doctor to treat this condition in the country for many years, during which he trained all the physicians working in this field in Mozambique today. He also raised funds, not only to finance the treatment of patients, but also to pay for their transportation, meals and clothes.
Father Marchesini was kidnapped and imprisoned a number of times during the country’s post-independence civil war. His dedication and service gained him many awards, including Knight of the Order of the Star of Solidarity of the Republic of Italy, Certificate of Honour from the Ministry of Health of Mozambique and the Campaign to End Fistula, and the Certificate of Honour from the Zambézia Provincial Directorate.
Jhpiego, originally known as the John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, is this year’s other winner. The organization was founded in 1973 to prevent maternal death. For the last 40 years, Jhpiego has provided assistance to around 160 countries and is today active in more than 30 countries worldwide. It has also trained more than half a million health professionals in family planning and reproductive health.
The American organization focuses on various programme areas, including maternal, newborn and child health; family planning and reproductive health; HIV prevention, care and treatment; cervical cancer prevention and treatment; urban health; and contraceptive innovations. It is a recognized leader in promoting family planning programmes among women who have given birth and in integrating family planning into maternal and child health services.
The Award Committee for the United Nations Population Award, which made the selection, is chaired by the Czech Republic Ambassador to the United Nations, Edita Hrdá, and consists of representatives of Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Grenada, Jamaica, Qatar, United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria and Pakistan. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin are ex-officio members.
The Awards will be presented at the United Nations on 12 June.