MEET THE AWARDEES
Unsung Hero Award
Community Health Worker
Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme
Sana Malik is a young community health worker in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, one of the world’s last remaining polio endemic regions. She has shown extraordinary commitment over the past four years to building community trust around polio vaccination, even when faced with a life-threatening attack. Through her efforts, she has successfully addressed vaccine hesitancy concerns and motivated families to vaccinate their children, leading to a decrease in zero-dose children in the community. Malik previously worked as a teacher and holds a senior secondary school diploma in the Faculty of Arts.
Dr Marie-Roseline Darnycka Belizaire
Senior Emergency Manager
World Health Organization
Dr Marie-Roseline Darnycka Belizaire, originally from Haiti, has worked for over 18 years on the frontlines of epidemics worldwide, including Ebola, yellow fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Rift Valley fever, dengue, influenza, and Mpox. Driven by a passion for saving lives, Dr Belizaire is known for her dedication and problem-solving abilities, often working in challenging, high-risk environments. She recently implemented an innovative community-based surveillance tool for COVID-19 in the Central African Republic, which is now informing testing efforts for HIV, TB, malaria, and polio. She holds a medical degree, five Master’s degrees, and a PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health, in addition to being a Harvard LEAD fellow.
Game-changing Innovator Award
Dr Christian Happi
Professor and Director African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases
Dr Christian Happi has made groundbreaking contributions to outbreak response and surveillance throughout his career. He has pioneered real-time genomics epidemiology and open data sharing to guide outbreak response in Africa, starting with the development of a real-time response system called SENTINEL and the first Ebola rapid diagnostic test during the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak. This work proved foundational in helping him and his team to rapidly sequence Africa’s first SARS-CoV-2 genome within 48 hours, which was pivotal in identifying the virus’s origin and informing countermeasures during the pandemic. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences and a member of the US National Academy of Medicine.
Theophila Huriro Uwacu
Director of E-heza Data Solutions
TIP Global Health
Theophila Huriro Uwacu is a visionary leader in digital healthcare, having spearheaded the research, design, and expansion of E-heza Data Solutions, a comprehensive point-of-care tool for primary healthcare in Rwanda. Under her leadership, the platform has seen a four-fold increase in the number of women and children served and has expanded from one district to four since its introduction in 2018. The tool is now being expanded to ten districts across Rwanda. An adept manager with a focus on community engagement, Uwacu has secured pivotal partnerships with the Rwandan government, African Union, and Africa CDC, and is continuing to work to shape the future of digital health systems across Africa.
Rising Champion Award
Odinaka Kingsley Obeta
Block Malaria Africa Initiative
Odinaka Kingsley Obeta is a distinguished biomedical scientist whose passion for public health drives his work. As the Executive Director of Block Malaria Africa Initiative, he leads a pioneering effort to combat malaria among the most-at-risk populations across Nigeria. In addition to this role, Obeta serves as the West Africa Lead for the African Leaders Malaria Alliance Youth Advisory Council, working to provide strategic advice on how to ensure effective youth participation. A testament to his exceptional impact, Obeta received the coveted 25Under25 Global Legacy award by Common Purpose UK in 2022, making him the first African recipient of this award.
Dr Maha Rehman
Founder and Director General
Crisis Aid Network
Dr Maha Rehman has emerged as a prominent figure in public health in Pakistan, particularly in advocating for youth participation in activism and health rights. Her influence is evident through her positions as the Global Director of Human Rights and Peace for International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA) and the President of IFMSA-Pakistan, representing 75,000 medical students across Pakistan. In these roles, Dr Rehman focused on educating parents about COVID-19 and polio vaccination, working across six regions and with Afghan refugee and tribal populations. Today she is dedicated to expanding the Crisis Aid Network, which she founded, aiming to bolster disaster management and provide first responder medicine training.
Frontline Exemplar Award
President, Bright Educational Society;
Frontline Polio Worker, Rotary International
Syed Latif is a dedicated polio worker who has shown remarkable resilience and commitment in over two decades of public health service in Pakistan. Despite facing a life-threatening attack as a result of his work, he continues his mission to eradicate the virus in the Mansehra and Abbottabad areas of Pakistan. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Latif seamlessly transitioned to play a vital role in identifying suspected COVID-19 cases, conducting contact tracing, and disseminating educational information to encourage families to get vaccinated in the remote, mountainous areas of Northern Pakistan. His journey is a testament to the crucial role of community health workers in reaching the last mile.
Nursing Officer (Public Health)
University of Ghana Medical Center, Ministry of Health
Gifty Atampugbire is a multi-award winning nurse, 2023 Mandela Washington Fellow, and mental health first-aid provider with over a decade of experience working in rural communities to provide critical health services and education. During the COVID-19 pandemic, her innovative and steadfast efforts—such as setting up hand washing stations, delivering educational messages via megaphone at busy markets, and driving by motorbike on dangerous roads to reach families in need—set her apart and led to high vaccine acceptance rates among the community. Atampugbire currently works at the University of Ghana Medical Center and as host for “Health Focus” on Ministry of Health TV.
Climate-Health Action Award
Dr Teofredo T. Esguerra
Emergency Management Specialist and Musical Artist
Dr Teofredo T. Esguerra is an emergency response doctor with a distinguished record of leading high-risk rescue and response operations and facilitating physiological first aid following earthquakes, floods, typhoons, and more. In non-emergency situations, he provides vital training in austere environment rescue operations to diverse groups and advocates for the use of indigenous practices for climate-driven crisis response. Among his notable contributions is the popularization of leveraging bamboo as an early warning system and as improvised stretchers. Additionally, Dr Esguerra uses his artistic talents as a poet, composer, and ethnic musician to promote healing and resilience among medical frontliners by directing workshops and performances through his artist group, Tanglaw Sining.
Information Management Officer
Libyan Red Crescent
Ibrahim Dofani is a humanitarian and data management leader with over seven years at the Libyan Red Crescent. His early career achievement of creating a live map tracking COVID-19 awareness levels in Benghazi set a national benchmark and earned him recognition from the International Federation of Red Cross. This effort proved crucial during the catastrophic floods in Derna in September 2023, where he skillfully managed data for targeted humanitarian projects and helped deploy resources and volunteers to areas of most need, based on his 3D mapping of the region. Dofani is now extending the application of this system to map out climate-driven changes in the country and assess emergency preparedness.