The inaugural REACH Awards, presented in 2017, focused on honoring the heroes of the effort to eliminate Guinea worm disease and recognized one of the leaders of the UAE’s campaign to end polio in Pakistan

Lifetime Achievement Award

Jimmy Carter

Former U.S. President, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Founder of The Carter Center
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has dedicated his post-political life to promoting peace and fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) around the world. In 1982, he and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, founded The Carter Center to resolve conflict, promote democracy, protect human rights and prevent disease. In 1986, The Carter Center began leading the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease. It is estimated that the Guinea worm eradication campaign has averted at least 80 million cases of this devastating disease among the world’s poorest and most neglected people.

“On behalf of The Carter Center and its partners, I am honored to accept the REACH award, alongside outstanding heroes in the campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease, whose efforts to eliminate infectious disease in marginalized, vulnerable communities create opportunities for people to transform their lives and reach their full potential.”

Special Achievement Award

His Excellency Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli

Director of the United Arab Emirates Pakistan Assistance Program
His Excellency Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli started his journey in humanitarian assistance in 1993 in Somalia. Since then he has worked in many humanitarian settings, including in Kosovo, Lebanon and Pakistan. He is currently the director of the United Arab Emirates Pakistan Assistance Program. He is most well-known for overseeing the Emirates Polio Campaign, through which millions of children have been vaccinated in Pakistan, one of the three remaining polio endemic countries. The success of the Emirates Polio Campaign is largely attributable to His Excellency’s focus on forming partnerships throughout all the different components of the polio eradication campaign – from planning to implementation. He has also helped improve how the polio eradication campaign is monitored and evaluated.

“Disease eradication saves millions of lives and partnership is key to this. I am proud to support the His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan’s global partnerships with governments, and international development and philanthropic organizations, which are focused on using the UAE’s unique position to contribute to the global fight against disease.”

Courage Award

Dr. Nabil Aziz Awad Alla

Former National Guinea Worm Disease Eradication Program Coordinator, Ministry of Health, Sudan
Dr. Nabil Aziz Awad Alla led the Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program from 1994 until 2002, and witnessed the country’s last case of the disease in 2002. During his tenure, he was known to travel across the country to personally search for cases, at times at great personal risk due to the civil war in Sudan. Dr. Nabil Aziz Awad Alla helped convene a national conference in 1995 and invited both General Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. This provided an opportunity for President Carter to negotiate a “Guinea worm cease-fire” that lasted almost six months and allowed the program to expand into areas formerly inaccessible due to civil conflict in the south.

“My work in Guinea worm disease eradication has taken me from war zones to remote villages. However, one thing remained constant throughout every tricky situation I found myself in – and that is hope. I am driven by the hope that I see in both sufferers and health workers, and I am honoured to be recognized on behalf of the community and the amazing individuals fighting to end Guinea worm disease.”

Last Mile Award

Dr. Adamu Keana Sallau

Director for Integrated Health Programs in the Imo/Abia States, The Carter Center, Nigeria
Dr. Adamu Keana Sallau was at the forefront of the Nigeria Guinea Worm Eradication Program in Nigeria for over a decade, until the disease was eliminated in the country in 2008. Dr. Sallau’s success was driven by the fact that he was the only Zonal Consultant (Nigeria was divided into five federal zones) who set up mobile case containment centers in endemic hotspots where Guinea worm disease could be quickly detected, treated and kept from spreading. In 2008, he was dispatched to southeast Nigeria to bring an outbreak under control, overseeing the efforts that brought an end to Guinea worm disease in Nigeria. Dr. Sallau was part of the team that pulled out the last Guinea worm from the last patient in Nigeria; that worm is preserved in a jar, which has been on display at the American Museum of Natural History as part of the Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease exhibition in New York City.

“Guinea worm eradication is highly complex because the disease affects some of the most marginalized communities in Africa where remote villages and traditional beliefs create challenges for health workers. I am proud to be a part of the fight to help eliminate Guinea worm disease from my country, prevent millions of my people from needless suffering, and give more people a chance at a healthy life.”

Unsung Hero Award

Regina Lotubai Lomare Lochilangole

Social Mobilizer, Federal Ministry of Health, South Sudan
Regina Lotubai Lomare Lochilangole is a Guinea worm disease social mobilizer in her native South Sudan. She is credited with creating original Guinea worm songs and dances to teach her community about Guinea worm symptoms and prevention. Her approach was so effective that South Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health created a position for her within the Guinea Worm Eradication Program, titled social mobilizer. Lochilangole now travels to different parts of the country to train other volunteers to become social mobilizers for Guinea worm disease. Lochilangole’s dedication to Guinea worm disease eradication stems from her personal experience with the disease. At one time, she had at least 10 worms emerging from her body. That memory keeps her motivated.

“I have seen firsthand the suffering caused by the disease and urge the world to continue supporting this important fight. We need people working at all levels – from community health workers to global advocates – to end this disease once and for all.”

Unsung Hero Award

Daniel Madit Kuol Madut

Senior Program Officer, Federal Ministry of Health, South Sudan
Daniel Madit Kuol Madut is a frontline neglected tropical disease health worker from South Sudan who rose through the ranks from a village volunteer in 1998 to senior program officer today. Over the past decade, the Guinea Worm Eradication Program has relied on Madut to move to different parts of the country to respond to outbreaks and enhance surveillance. When international organizations have evacuated foreign staff during periods of political upheaval and insecurity, Madut has always stayed at his post and courageously continued the work, unshaken by danger. Madut, who is currently covering one of the only remaining Guinea worm disease endemic areas in South Sudan, says that his commitment to the eradication effort comes from a personal desire to see his compatriots unite to accomplish something positive.

“We are now closer than ever to eradicating Guinea worm disease. However, reaching the last mile is sometimes the hardest. We must redouble our efforts and work closely together – only then will we reach zero.”