Established by the General Assembly in 1981, the UN Population Award is presented each year to a laureate or laureates who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of population and health.
Today at the Trusteeship Council, Father Aldo Marchesini and the organization Jhpiego were awarded the 2014 United Nations Population Award. Both award winners have dedicated more than four decades to saving the lives and preserving the health of women around the world. Targeting reproductive and maternal health care in communities, their efforts have jointly improved and expanded this healthcare sector.
Father Aldo Marchesini is devoted to treating ‘obstetric fistula’. It is a complication of childbirth occurring almost exclusively in places where basic maternal health care is unavailable. Prolonged or obstructed labour tears a hole in the birth canal, leading to chronic incontinence and, often, social isolation and marginalization. Having been the only doctor in Mozambique with the expertise to treat obstetric fistula for a long time, he lived through the countries prolonged post-independence civil war. Father Marchesini candidly commented that, “the plight of women seeking medical attention and treatment outweighed the threat he faced to his own life; having been kidnapped and imprisoned countless times during the civil war”. UNFPA supports obstetric fistula campaigns in Mozambique, including providing funds and surgical kits to Dr. Marchesini’s programme.
Jhpiego, originally known as the John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, pursues the goal of reducing high rates of maternal death in low-income countries through family planning. In many parts of the world, women do not use any form of contraception due to a combination of lack of information, social stigma and, most importantly, a limited number of providers able to deliver needed services at time of need. Jhpiego’s primary campaign is to highlight the fact that the simple act of family planning has a direct baring in improving maternal, newborn and child health; HIV prevention, care and treatment and cervical cancer prevention and treatment. Over a million healthcare providers – doctors, nurses, midwives, community health workers – have been trained by Jhpiego in family planning and reproductive health.
Both Dr. Marchesini and Jhpiego have been instrumental in ensuring the long-term sustainability of maternal and reproductive health services. In conclusion Edita Hrdá remarked that, “the award serves as an expression of our joint commitment to ensure a life of dignity for all and to build a world in which every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled”.
Meeting Title: “2014 United Nations Population Award Ceremony”
Winners: Father Aldo Marchesini, a doctor and Catholic priest who treats obstetric fistula sufferers in Mozambique; Jhpiego, a maternal and child health organization.
Award Committee: Edita Hrdá, Czech Republic Ambassador to the UN; representatives of Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Grenada, Jamaica, Qatar, the United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Award Presenter: Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations
Date/Location: 12 June 2014;Trusteeship Council, UN Headquarters
Written By WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta