The PHILA Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Prof John Gear at the recent PHASA conference.
Both the PHILA annual award and the lifetime achievement award are intended to honour excellence in and commitment to public health in South Africa.
All of the nominations for this Award were adjudicated by an awards committee which consisted of five people
Very few nominations for the PHILA Annual Award were received this year. Although the committee were excited and impressed with the calibre of work undertaken by the individuals nominated, the committee felt that not one individual met all the criteria for this award and hence it was not presented. The committee did however, congratulate all those nominated and encouraged them in their search for excellence and in their future work.
The PHILA Lifetime Achievement Award honours an individual for a life time of commitment to public health research, education and service. Seven people were nominated, and all were outstanding and exceptional individuals, all of whom have made a significant contribution to public health in South Africa. The committee noted that selecting one individual over and above the others was extremely challenging.
In considering the recipient of this award, the awards committee were searching for someone with over 20 years’ experience in South Africa in public health; someone whose work, as a public health practitioner, has been exceptional and continues to raise public health standards; someone whose work has significantly influenced health policy and health services in this country. The committee were looking for someone who has demonstrated a high standard of professionalism and outstanding leadership in public health and whom colleagues in the field look up to as a role model. They were searching for someone who has a solid track record in building the public health capacity of younger individuals – critical for our future.
Prof John Gear is a passionate and inspired leader in the field of public health and someone whose influence and work has percolated through the highest levels of policy making, training and service in South Africa. He has influenced the future of many public health practitioners, many of whom were in the room for the ceremony. One of his most significant contributions to public health in South Africa, and for which he is most well-known and recognised, is in revolutionising primary health care in South Africa, notably in rural and under-served areas, and for inculcating the philosophy of Alma Ata – of equity and social justice – in so many undergraduate and post graduate students, health services managers and key decision makers in South Africa.
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