The World Food Prize Foundation

World Food Prize Laureate Sir Fazle Hasan Abed Honored at University of Michigan


Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of Brac, has received the Thomas Francis Jr Medal in Global Public Health award from the University of Michigan.

Mark Schlissel, president of the university, presented the medal to the development activist at a ceremony at the Ross School of Business on Wednesday, a Brac statement said.

Sir Abed was recognised for his work to ensure a healthier future for people living in poverty worldwide.

The medal, periodically awarded to a global leader whose work addresses the most pressing global health challenges, honours the legacy of the University of Michigan epidemiologist who mentored Dr Jonas Salk in his development of the polio vaccine.

“It is indeed a great honour to receive the Thomas Francis Jr Medal in Global Public Health,” said Sir Abed at the award ceremony.

“It gives me tremendous pleasure and I thank the University of Michigan for bestowing this prestigious award on me,” he added.

In a statement, the 80-year-old, who was knighted by the Queen in 2010, also said there is much excitement today about the potential of new technology to end human poverty.

“This can make us forget that many solutions already exist. We can reach millions more today by focusing less on 'what' and more on 'how'.”

The Brac, the world's largest non-governmental organisation in terms of coverage, in the 1970s pioneered a new approach to treating diarrheal disease in Bangladesh known as Oral Rehydration Therapy. The NGO reached 12 million mothers almost entirely through person-to-person education, revolutionising health delivery in the country, said the statement.

The organisation breaks the cycle of contamination caused by limited access to toilets, latrines and safe water sources, especially in rural areas.

By focusing on innovation, technical assistance, and community-based education, Brac water and sanitation for health committees have reached 38 million people, largely in rural areas of the country, according to the statement.  

Sir Abed has been honoured with numerous national and international awards for his achievements in fighting poverty. The awards include the World Food Prize, the Trust Women Hero Award, the Spanish Order of Civil Merit, the Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal, the WISE Prize for Education, the Entrepreneur for the World Award, and the Clinton Global Citizen Award.

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