Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta of Aga Khan University receives Gairdner Global Health Award 2022 (@akuglobal)

The Award recognises some of the world’s most significant biomedical and global health research.

Karachi, April 5, 2022: The Aga Khan University’s Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta has been presented the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for outstanding achievements in global health research.

The Gairdner Awards are widely regarded as Canada’s most prestigious prize for medical science and the Global Health Award, one of the highest awards in this discipline worldwide.

The Gairdner Foundation annually honours laureates for their contributions to the world’s most significant biomedical and global health research and discoveries. In addition to five international awards, one award is for scientific leadership in Canada and the global health award goes to a scientist whose advances have a significant impact on health outcomes in the developing world. 

Image source: AKU Press Release

The Award recognizes Dr. Bhutta for his work on the development and evaluation of evidence-based interventions in child and maternal health for marginalized populations focusing on outcomes for the essential ‘first thousand days of life covering pregnancy, childbirth, and the developmental phases in the first two years of life.

“I receive this award with the greatest humility on behalf of my team and colleagues who have worked on many of these issues diligently over decades,” said Dr Bhutta. “This is a recognition of the power of international collaboration and teamwork in addressing some of the complex problems affecting the poorest of the poor.” 

Developing a unique collaboration between centres in Pakistan, United Kingdom and Canada, Dr Bhutta has mobilized cluster randomized effectiveness trials (cRCTs) to gather data used to shape and improve evidence and intervention packages for community based maternal and newborn care, nutrition, and early childhood development.

“Recognition by Gairdner tells the world that AKU’s very own Dr Bhutta has made life better for thousands of people in the countries where we seek to serve,” notes Dr Carl Amrhein, Provost and Vice President, Academic of the Aga Khan University. “Our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan exhorts our University to aspire to create Impact, Quality, Relevance, and Access, known as IQRA; Professor Bhutta’s work embodies these aspirations. We are enormously proud of all he has accomplished thus far, and all he will achieve in the years ahead.”

Globally, Dr Bhutta’s work has been the foundation of multiple international guidelines, including changing World Health Organization policy on the treatment of persistent diarrhoea and malnutrition along with establishing lady health workers (LHW) as foundational members of community-based interventions in Pakistan, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 

His work provided the basis for the “Lancet 10” nutritional interventions used to inform international policy on malnutrition. Over the last two decades, his work on evidence-based interventions has helped guide global action plans to improve newborn health and survival. 

His rigorous approach to investigation has also challenged conventional wisdom, illustrating both the possibilities and limitations of vital interventions like community health workers.
Dr Bhutta has worked extensively in low resource areas, using sustainable interventions such as community support groups, low-cost packages of drugs and commodities that are available and affordable to disadvantaged populations. Through systematic investigation and analysis, he has established the foundations for current understandings of maternal and child health in rural, remote and conflict affected regions, and improved the survival and outcomes of world’s most vulnerable women and children.

At AKU, Dr Bhutta holds the title of Distinguished University Professor – the highest faculty rank the University can confer – as well as an Award of Distinction and Award of Excellence in Research. He has also received the Roux Prize for turning evidence into health impact in 2021.

He is the founding director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and the Institute for Global Health and Development at the Aga Khan University; and Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health, Robert Harding Chair in Global Child Health and Policy, and a Senior Scientist in the Child Health Evaluative Sciences programme at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.

Source: Press Release

Author: Sujjawal Ahmad

Sujjawal is an invited blog author from Pakistan. He finds it extremely exciting to develop a deep love of cultures around the world. The stories that are about humanity, and emotion, that compel us as individuals, and connect our hearts and minds are the kinds of stories Sujjawal has always gravitated to, and the kinds he tells. He can be reached at: sujjawalahmed@gmail.com

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