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Dame Sally Davies receives Nelson Mandela Prize for Health Promotion

Dame Sally Davies, Master of Trinity, has received the inaugural Nelson Mandela Prize for Health Promotion from the World Health Organization (WHO) in recognition of her ‘profound impact’ on health promotion.

Dame Sally was Chief Medical Officer for England 2010-2019 and is currently UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance and Co-Convenor of the United Nations Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance. She said she was ‘immensely honoured’ to receive the award and paid tribute to healthcare workers across the world. ‘You keep us safe, you are the true heroes.’

Dame Sally receiving the Nelson Mandela Award remotely

According to the WHO award citation:

Dame Sally’s impact on health promotion has been profound. At the heart of her efforts lies a desire to improve the quality of the public’s health regardless of their financial means or location, tackling the root causes of illness through education, research and preventive action. She was pivotal in launching non-communicable disease risk prevention strategies, and legal and fiscal measures. These include a nationwide sugar levy, standardized tobacco packaging, a smoking ban in cars with children as well as cross-governmental programmes to ensure access to sports and exercise facilities.

The other recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for 2020 is the Equi-Sastipen-Rroma Network in Spain, which works with various governmental agencies in Spain to develop health promotion interventions, foster social inclusion and preserve Roma identity.

In a video recorded for the awards ceremony in Geneva on Friday 13 November, Dame Sally said:

I am immensely honoured to receive the inaugural Nelson Mandela Award for Health Promotion, alongside the Equi-Sastipen-Rroma Network of Spain. What both these awards show is the power of collaboration and of team work. The establishment of this award is testimony to the importance of promoting public health through a multi-pronged approach of education, research and preventative action.

The whole world is currently experiencing the tragic impacts of a pandemic – impacting lives and livelihoods and I would like to pay tribute to all those affected and express my pride and thanks to the healthcare workers across the world. You keep us safe, you are the true heroes.

I feel very honoured to be recognised for the contributions I, my team and people across the world have made to health promotion, both in the UK, and across the world. I care passionately about health and wellbeing of everyone across the globe and I seem to be driven to make our planet a better, safer, healthier, happier place.

The Nelson Mandela Award also recognises Dame Sally’s global leadership against anti-microbial resistance – an issue she is committed to because of its potentially devastating impact on public health. ‘I’m particularly proud of the global progress we have made together on antimicrobial resistance – arguably the most significant global health threat of all – a slow-growing pandemic,’ says Dame Sally.

Our antibiotics are precious and we need to collaborate globally and unite to preserve them. They underpin global modern medicine and we have to protect them for generations to come. I want to tell my grandchildren: “we did it, we saved modern medicine.”

Read more about this year’s awards and prize winners:

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