At a time when Health Minster Anbumani Ramadoss has been pilloried back home for his moves to erode the autonomy of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), his ministry has been honoured for exemplary work in the field of anti-tobacco campaign.
The American Cancer Society has hailed India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as "a model to which other nations may aspire" and given it the award for Exemplary Leadership by a Government Ministry.
Ramadoss received the Luther L. Terry Award, named after a former US surgeon general who authored a landmark 1964 report connecting tobacco use to lung cancer and other illnesses, at a special ceremony in Washington Friday.
The ministry has demonstrated its unrelenting stance on health promotion and tobacco control through its support of a comprehensive national tobacco control policy and an effective Tobacco Control under World Health Organisation's Framework Convention, according to the award citation.
The ministry's vision for tobacco control extends beyond legislation, however, and its programmatic and financial support for non-governmental organisations engaged in tobacco control proves its commitment to, and innovation in, the tobacco control movement, it added.
Presented as part of the 13th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, the awards recognised outstanding worldwide achievement in the field of tobacco control in five categories -- Distinguished Career Award, Exemplary Leadership by a Government Ministry, Outstanding Individual Leadership, Outstanding Organisation, and Outstanding Research Contribution.
"Given the momentum of the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), currently ratified by 125 countries and the growing global movement to combat unprecedented and aggressive worldwide tobacco marketing tactics, the timeliness of recognising these achievers' contributions is particularly relevant," said John R. Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society.
"As reported by WHO, there are approximately 1.3 billion smokers in the world - one-third of the global population aged 15 years and older," Seffrin added. "Eventually, 650 million of them will die from smoking. This number exceeds the expected number of deaths from HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, automobile accidents, maternal mortality, homicide and suicide combined."