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25/01/2012: Bangladeshi scientist wins first Gates Vaccine Innovation Award

Dr ASM Amjad Hossain, a Bangladeshi physician, won the first Gates Vaccine Innovation Award provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a news release of the foundation said.

The foundation on Wednesday announced the winner of the award in Bill Gates’ fourth annual letter, which provides his personal  account of the foundation’s priorities for the coming year.

The award recognised the work of Dr. ASM Amjad Hossain, a former district immunization and surveillance medical officer in Bangladesh, whose implementation of an innovative approach to routine immunization provided thousands of children with access to life-saving vaccines.

‘Dr. Hossain’s innovative approach to running an immunization program led to rapid improvements in coverage rates in key districts in Bangladesh,’ Bill Gates said in the letter. ‘Tracking pregnant mothers, annual vaccination schedules and increased accountability may seem like small innovations, but they show how looking at the old problems in new ways can make a profound difference.’

To help vaccinators reach children, Dr. Hossain instituted a new and improved process to help register, track and locate pregnant mothers.

He also implemented annual vaccination schedules for communities and other simple steps like adding the phone numbers of vaccinators to children’s immunization cards, which increased accountability and allowed parents to easily access health workers.

Dr. Hossain oversaw routine immunization programs in two Bangladeshi districts with low immunization rates, Brahmanbaria and Habiganj.

He was tasked with immunizing more than 150,000 children against vaccine-preventable diseases including diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and measles. In the course of a single year, his application of creative methods contributed to an increase in immunization coverage by more than 15 percentage points.

Dr. Hossain’s achievements will be recognised with an award of US$250,000, the majority of which will be donated to a charity of his choice.

The Gates Vaccine Innovation Award celebrates revolutionary ways in which children in the poorest parts of the world receive life-saving vaccines.

The award is bestowed on an individual or organisation nominated by the public that has made a uniquely innovative contribution to the Decade of Vaccines, in the hope of shining a light on the most powerful innovations in global health.

Nominees are assessed on the tangible health impact, creativity, and scale of their innovation in the science, delivery, or funding of vaccines.

Source: New Age, Dhaka