All too often it seems like the good guys get left behind, while the not-so-good guys get the recognition. So I'm pleased to say that today there's real news that one of the world's true "good guys" of immunization is being honored. In recognition of his contributions to advancing pneumonia vaccines and prevention around the world, Dr. Thomas Cherian of the World Health Organization is receiving the Global Leadership Award from the Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE).
Together with longtime international vaccine leader Dr. Ciro de Quadros, I'm pleased to co-chair PACE, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute that is dedicated to raising awareness about pneumococcal disease and helping secure money to prevent it. Each year, PACE recognizes a leader whose work is helping advance pneumococcal disease prevention. Dr. Cherian joins a prestigious group of previous award recipients, including the health ministries of Rwanda - the first country in Africa to introduce pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, and Costa Rica - the first country in Latin America to implement a nationwide vaccination program.
Dr. Cherian's contributions include advances in both pneumonia research and policy. After training as a pediatric infectious disease specialist, first at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India and then at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, he worked on improving the approach to diagnosing and treating pneumonia in the field. Later, as a consultant to the World Health Organization, he advanced the field of pneumococcal vaccine development by creating standards for the diagnosis of pneumonia by x-rays across vaccine trials. Most recently, as a leader within WHO, he has led efforts to estimate the burden of pneumococcal disease in all countries, to establish robust surveillance systems in the most difficult environments and to formulate evidence-based policies for their use.
Those who know him will also uniformly tell you that he is one of the most humble, unassuming leaders they have ever known. Always ready with a smile and never with a bad thing to say about anyone, Thomas Cherian is both accomplished professionally and truly one of the "good guys" of public health.
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