Press Release

24 February 2009

Egyptian Doctor and Nicaraguan NGO Win 2009 United Nations Population Award

UNITED NATIONS, New York – An Egyptian doctor, Mahmoud Fathalla, and a Nicaraguan non-governmental organization, Movimiento Comunal Nicaragüense (MCN), have won this year’s United Nations Population Award. The Award is given to individuals and institutions for outstanding work in population and in improving the health of individuals.

The Award Committee, chaired by Malaysia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Hamidon Ali, chose the laureates from 18 international nominees. The Committee consists of 10 United Nations Member States, with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, serving as its secretariat. The awards are due to be presented on Monday, 1 June, at the United Nations, New York. Each winner will receive a diploma and a gold medal.

According to documents submitted to the Award Committee, Dr. Fathalla is a renowned doctor and professor of obstetrics/gynaecology at Assiut University, Egypt, where he began his academic career. Beyond academia, Dr. Fathalla also works as a manager, adviser and advocate on family planning, reproductive health and safe motherhood.

In 1974, Dr. Fathalla founded the Egyptian Fertility Care Society, one of the first family planning organizations in the Arab world, according to documents with the Award Committee. Since then, he has advised the Egyptian Family Planning Association, Ministry of Health and the National Population Council. He has also advised international organizations, such as the World Health Organization; International Women’s Health Coalition; Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health; International Planned Parenthood Federation; David and Lucille Packard Foundation; and the Committee on Population of the National Research Council of the United States.

Dr. Fathalla has won many honours, such as the Pioneer Award from the President of Egypt, while British and American Colleges of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have made him an Honorary Fellow. A maternal health advocate, he was one of the founders of the Safe Motherhood Initiative.

Created in 1978, Movimiento Comunal Nicaragüense (MCN) works to improve living conditions in Nicaragua through social and community development, gender equality and environmental protection, according to documents with the Award Committee. It works in 120 municipalities and 2,000 local communities, with an ability to mobilize around 20,000 persons, such as community leaders, educators and health promoters, including midwives, according to the documents. More recently, MCN has focused on young people, with the aim of improving gender relations, eliminating violence, preventing sexually transmitted infections and reducing teen pregnancies.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council elects countries to the Award Committee for three-year terms. Currently, members are Algeria, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Iran, Malaysia, Peru, Sweden and Tanzania. The United Nations Secretary-General and the UNFPA Executive Director are ex-officio members.

Contact Information:

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel: +1 212 297 5028
gharzeddine@unfpa.org