Elias Durry, the current chief of the World Health Organisation’s polio eradication programme in Pakistan, has been honoured for his global polio eradication efforts.
Dr Durry has spent some 17 years strengthening the polio eradication programme across polio hotspots such as the Horn of Africa, Nigeria and Yemen. His dedication to polio eradication has been recognised with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s prestigious William C. Watson Jr. Medal of Excellence.
Since 1977, the medal has been the premiere service award for CDC employees.
Although the award is accompanied by a cash prize, Dr Durry has decided to donate the funds to the Bob Keegan Polio Eradication Heroes Fund — in honour of the sacrifices made by frontline health workers.
“Although slightly embarrassed by all the attention, I have to admit I feel extremely honoured to be the recipient of this year’s William C. Watson, Jr., Medal of Excellence,” Dr Durry said.
“I would also like to acknowledge that this Medal was conferred on me as a representative of a large army of colleagues and friends that have worked for the cause over decades in all these different countries. It also signifies the support that we provided to each other across all GPEI partners and Governments we worked with.
“But, none of these contributions matches those of the frontline workers and the sacrifices these brave women and men have paid. For this reason, I am donating the $1000 cash award that came with Medal to the Bob Keegan Polio Eradication Heroes Fund as a token of our gratitude to all of our front line volunteers who have been injured or killed in the line of this noble duty across the world.”
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has congratulated Dr Durry on receiving the award and said his outstanding leadership, insightful capacity to develop innovative approaches, and savvy ability to work in complicated areas has been critical to the success of the polio eradication programme to date.