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Afghanistan Human Rights Activist Wins 2004 Jonathan Mann Award

5/20/2004 1:45:00 PM

To: National and International desks

Contact: Lynnette Johnson Williams or Jennifer Simonds, 202-327-5003, both of the Global Health Council; media@globalhealth.org

WASHINGTON, May 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- An international symbol of the steadfast courage required to demand basic human rights for girls and women in Afghanistan, Dr. Sima Samar was named the recipient of the 2004 Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights. Dr. Samar, chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, will accept the prestigious award on June 3 in Washington, D.C. at the Global Health Council's annual international conference, Youth and Health: Generation on the Edge.

Dr. Samar founded and directs the Shuhada Organization, the oldest Afghan and the largest woman-led non-governmental organization (NGO) operating in the region. Currently Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, she is also internationally known as Afghanistan's first Minister of Women's Affairs. Since 1989, Shuhada has implemented unprecedented programs in the areas of health, education, construction, relief and income generation to improve the lives of Afghan women and girls.

Often working undercover in defiance of the brutally repressive Taliban, the country's ruling military and political force from 1994 to 2001, Dr. Samar opened hospitals, health clinics, a housing community for poor widows and their families, shelters and numerous schools that serve the women and children in Afghanistan.

"Dr. Samar's courage helped force open the doors to improved health care, education, and better lives for women throughout her country," said Dr. Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council. "Advancements enjoyed by the women of Afghanistan are largely the result of her courageous work over the last decade, in the face of overwhelming personal danger under Taliban oppression. She speaks for the freedom of all women."

Today, more than 36,700 girls and boys study in Shuhada schools. The clinics and hospitals provide services to some 750 patients per day. With more than 1,000 staff, the organization employs more workers than almost any other local or international NGO in Afghanistan.

"I accept this award on behalf of the millions of women and girls in Afghanistan working to have ambition, freedom and economic independence. These are the women who need support from the international health community. These are women for whom we must fight for a better future," said Dr. Samar.

The Mann Award is bestowed annually in honor of the late Dr. Jonathan Mann to an active practitioner carrying out a commitment to health and human rights, often at great personal danger. Three partners jointly oversee the substantial cash prize: Doctors of the World, the Association Frangois-Xavier Bagnoud, and the Global Health Council, with additional contributions from John Snow, Inc

The presentation of the award will be made in Washington, D.C. during the Global Health Council's 31st annual international conference, Youth and Health: Generation on the Edge.

National Public Radio Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon will serve as master of ceremonies for the annual awards banquet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, the Omni Shoreham Hotel Regency Ballroom. World health leaders and nearly 2,000 conference participants from more than 85 nations will attend the international global health conference.

Dr. Jonathan Mann (1947-1998) was one of the 20th century's key figures in the fight against global poverty and illness. A crusader against AIDS and a champion for human rights, Mann played a major role in focusing public attention on the fact that prejudice and discrimination were helping to drive and spread the AIDS epidemic. He and his wife, Mary Lou Clements-Mann, herself a world-renowned immunologist, were killed in the deadly crash of Swissair Flight 111 in September 1998.

Dr. Mann was founder and the first director of WHO's Global Programme on AIDS, and the first director of Harvard University's Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights. Working with the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, he had ambitious plans to put human rights at the center of global health policy. For additional information on the Jonathan Mann Award, contact: jmannaward@globalhealth.org.

For more information on the Jonathan Mann Award visit: http://www.globalhealth.org/view_top.php3?id=362

A photo of Dr. Sima Samar is available at: http://www.globalhealth.org/view_top.php3?id=427

For more information about Dr. Sima Samar and the Shuhada Organization, visit: http://www.shuhada.org


2003 -- Abdurrazack "Zackie" Achmat of Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in South Africa and Dr. Frenk Guni, former executive director of the Zimbabwe Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, for their tireless activism in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

2002 -- Dr. Ruchama Marton and Salah Haj Yehya, two medical workers, one Israeli and one Israeli-Palestinian, who work side- by-side to administer health care and medical treatment in the conflict-ridden West Bank.

2001 -- Retired gynecologist Dr. Gao Yaojie of Henan Province, China, who discovered that blood selling was central to the problem of AIDS affecting people in Henan province.

2000 -- Co-winners: Albanian pediatricians, Dr. Flora Brovina, founder and director of the League of Albanian Women (Pristina, Kosovo) and Dr. Vjosa Dobruna, founder and director of the Center for the Protection of Women and Children (Pristina, Kosovo) for their activities regarding the psychosocial needs of women and children victims of war crimes.

1999 -- Cynthia Maung, director of the Mae Tao Clinic (Thailand) for committing her life to healing victims of human rights abuses in her native Burma.


The Global Health Council is the world's largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by improving health throughout the world. The Council serves and represents thousands of public health professionals from 103 countries on six continents. Web: http://www.globalhealth.org


2004 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

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