Press Releases

    DSG/SM/229
                                                                                                                            POP/906
                                                                                                                            8 July 2004

    Deputy Secretary-General Praises Winners of 2004 UN Population Award for Dedication to Creating World of Opportunity, Dignity

    NEW YORK, 6 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette’s remarks at the United Nations Population Award in New York, 6 July:

    I have great pleasure in welcoming all of you to the 2004 United Nations Population Award ceremony.

    Every year since its creation in 1981, the United Nations Population Award has recognized individuals and organizations that have brought remarkable benefits to the health and quality of life of people around the world, and to the wider cause of sustainable development.

    This year’s winners are:

    -- Professor John C. Caldwell of Australia, in the individual category; and

    -- In the institutional category, the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. The hospital is represented here today by its Executive Director, Dr. Catherine Hamlin.

    Let’s give both winners a round of applause.

    I would now like to say a few words about each of the recipients of this year’s award.

    Professor Caldwell has been selected for his long and impressive record in demographic research.  His 1976 study, “Restatement of demographic transition theory”, and especially its observations about the directions of inter-generational wealth flows, remains the single most influential academic work in its area.

    Professor Caldwell has also made pioneering contributions to our understanding of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and its effects.  No other researcher has done as much to highlight the social and cultural dimensions of the disease.  This is of critical importance because behavioural change is such a crucial aspect of prevention and protection.

    As if these achievements were not enough, Professor Caldwell has also made valuable additions to our collective understanding of family formation; the success of family planning programmes; the differences in national mortality rates, particularly among poor countries; and the relationship between culture and mortality decline.

    This year’s other prize-winner, the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, was chosen for its achievements in providing services for women suffering from injuries caused by childbirth.

    As you know, obstetric fistula is a painful and debilitating injury in which a woman’s birth canal is ruptured.  In some cultures, the condition can also lead to social ostracism, with women abandoned by their husbands, children or friends.

    Each year, several thousand Ethiopian women are estimated to develop fistula.  The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital tackles the problem by offering a holistic package of services:  part medical, part social and part psychological.  Together, its services help fistula sufferers reintegrate into the community with dignity.  The hospital also trains young doctors in surgical techniques, subsidizes fistula care as much as possible, and carries out campaigns to raise public awareness of the condition and its treatment.

    The contributions of this year’s two awardees underscore the importance of dealing with population issues as an integral part of the world’s overall approach to social and economic development.  That, of course, was one of the core conclusions of the International Conference on Population and Development, the tenth anniversary of which we are also commemorating this year.  A decade after Cairo, there remains an urgent need to integrate population factors more explicitly into economic and development strategies in order to speed up the pace of sustainable development and poverty eradication. As the Secretary-General has said, unless questions of population and reproductive health are addressed squarely, the Millennium Development Goals will be that much harder -- or even impossible -- to achieve.

    With today’s awards, the international community is reinforcing this recognition and acknowledging those who have dedicated themselves to creating the world of opportunity and dignity defined in the Millennium Declaration.

    On behalf of the United Nations, I congratulate the winners of the UN Population Award for 2004.

    * *** *