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Jailed Indian Pediatrician Wins 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights
Date:4/21/2008

WASHINGTON, April 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Global Health Council is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights is Dr. Binayak Sen of Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India.

Sen, a physician who helped establish a hospital serving poor mine workers in the region, is an officer of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a leading human rights organization in India. He has been imprisoned in Raipur for nearly a year without trial as a result of allegations that he violated state antiterrorism laws. Sen denies committing any crime.

The Global Health Council and several prominent global health organizations have issued a statement of support for Sen (See link below.), requesting that Indian authorities assure the restoration of due process, and find the means to allow the doctor to receive his award in person in Washington, DC on May 29th, 2008, at the 35th Annual International Conference on Global Health.

This 58-year-old pediatrician was selected by an international jury of public health professionals for this prestigious award because of his years of service to poor and tribal communities in India, his effective leadership in establishing self-sustaining health care services where none existed, and his unwavering commitment to civil liberties and human rights. In addition to working with the PUCL, Sen and his wife, Dr. Ilina Sen, are the founders of Rupantar, a community-based nongovernmental organization that has trained, deployed and monitored the work of community health workers spread throughout 20 villages. Rupantar's activities include initiatives to counter alcohol abuse and violence against women, and to promote food security.

"Dr. Sen's accomplishments speak volumes about what can be achieved in very poor areas when health practitioners are also committed community leaders," said Dr. Nils Daulaire, president of the Global Health Council. "He staffed a hospital created by and funded by impoverished mine workers, and he has spent his lifetime educating people about health practices and civil liberties -- providing information that has saved lives and improved conditions for thousands of people. His good works need to be recognized as a major contribution to India and to global health; they are certainly not a threat to state security."

Large areas of Chhattisgarh are embroiled in an armed conflict involving rebels, the state government and law enforcement, and armed civilian militias. Sen was detained on May 14, 2007, and accused of passing notes from a rebel leader he was treating in jail to someone outside the prison. Sen denies committing any crime and says his activities in the jail were supervised by prison authorities.

Many organizations and prominent persons have protested Sen's arrest and his long imprisonment without trial. He was recently released from a period of solitary confinement and has reportedly suffered health problems resulting from his nearly year-long imprisonment.

The Mann Award is presented annually at the Global Health Council's international conference to a practitioner who makes significant contributions toward practical work in the field and in difficult circumstances; highlights the linkage of health with human rights; works predominantly in developing countries and with marginalized people; and demonstrates serious and long-term commitment.

For the Statement of Support on Behalf of Dr. Binayak Sen issued by global health and human rights organizations, see http://www.globalhealth.org/news/article/9833.

For information about the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, see http://www.globalhealth.org/conference/view_top.php3?id=746.

The Global Health Council is the world's largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by improving health throughout the world. The Council serves and represents public health organizations and professionals working in more than 140 countries on six continents. http://www.globalhealth.org

Laura Barnitz, Global Health Council

202.833.5900, x3204 or lbarnitz@globalhealth.org


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SOURCE Global Health Council
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