Press Release

Egyptian Health Minister and Mexican Family Planning Foundation Win United Nations Population Award

20 March 2000

UNITED NATIONS, New York - Ismail Awadallah Sallam, the Minister of Health and Population of Egypt, and a Mexican family planning organization, Fundacion Mexicana para la Planificacion Familiar (MEXFAM), will share the 2000 United Nations Population Award.

The 2000 Award winners were announced today by the Chairman of the Award Committee, Ambassador Jose Luis Barbosa Leao Monteiro of Cape Verde. Each winner will receive a diploma, a gold medal and an equal share of the monetary prize of $25,000.

The Award is presented annually by the Committee for the United Nations Population Award to individuals and institutions, which have made outstanding contributions to increasing the awareness of population problems and to their solutions.

Mr. Sallam has directed Egypt’s population policy since 1996. He has been involved in population issues unofficially and at the community level since 1964. Mr. Sallam has been a supporter of community-based health services and the provision of family planning to the poor through their communities. He played an active role in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo and headed Egyptian delegations to several subsequent conferences.

Mr. Sallam became involved in population issues during his student days in Cairo, as a member of the Student Union Association for Family Health. He provided help to families at risk, as well as underprivileged groups, in the form of technical skills and health education. He was actively engaged in family planning through the Health Committee of the National Democratic Party, which helped mothers and children by providing a preventive and curative “basic needs” package of health services. He successfully piloted the village-based provision of ultrasound examinations to women in rural Egypt.

Mr. Sallam received his Diploma in Higher Surgery from Ain-Shams University in 1966, where he also received his MD in 1964. He earned his Doctorate from Glasgow University in 1973. He is the author of more than 82 articles in scholarly journals.

The winner in the institutional category was MEXFAM, a pioneer and leader of Mexican civil society in the area of family planning and sexual and reproductive health for over 30 years. It was one of the first NGOs to provide family planning services throughout Mexico, providing services in 103 cities in 1965, nine years before the Government introduced contraception into public health services.

MEXFAM participated regularly in a council that directed the creation of Mexico’s “General Law of Population” (1974) that officially introduced family planning into public health programmes.

The organization has most recently initiated programmes in the area of juvenile sexual health. A programme, El Programa Gente Joven, provides a comprehensive approach to adolescent sexuality, which incorporates peer training, community capacity-building, the development of age-appropriate health education materials and school-based workshops. The programme is implemented throughout the country and is available to millions of young Mexicans. The strategies and educational materials of El Programa Gente Joven are widely used by other governmental institutions and NGOs not only in Mexico, but also in other Latin America countries, and in Asia and Africa.

The two winners will receive their awards at a ceremony to be held in June 2000 at the United Nations.

The Committee of the United Nations Population Award is made up of representatives of United Nations member States elected by the Economic and Social Council for terms of three years. The current members are Burundi, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lesotho, the Netherlands, Romania and Thailand. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Nafis Sadik, serve as ex-officio members. In addition, the Committee has five eminent individuals as honorary members who serve in an advisory capacity for renewable terms of three years.

There were 32 nominations for the 2000 award, including 18 individuals and 14 institutions. Nominations can be made by: member States; intergovernmental organizations engaged in population-related activities; population related non-governmental organizations having consultative status with the United Nations; university professors of population or related studies; heads of population-related institutions; and past laureates.

Contact Information:

William A. Ryan
Tel.: +66 2 288 2446

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