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UN: Iran and Vietnam win 1999 United Nations population award

6 April 1999 NEW YORK (UNFPA) -- Dr. Seyed Alireza Marandi, former Minister of Health and Medical Education of Iran, and the Vietnam National Committee for Population and Family Planning will share the 1999 United Nations Population Award.

The 1999 winners were announced today by the Chairman of the Award Committee, Ambassador Jose Luis Barbosa Leao Monteiro of Cape Verde. Each winner will receive a diploma, a gold medal and an equal share of the monetary prize of $25,000.

The Award is presented annually by the Committee of the United Nations Population Award to individuals and institutions which have made outstanding contributions to increasing the awareness of population problems and to their solutions.

Dr. Marandi was nominated for his almost single-handed change of Iranian population policy. Iran had a high rate of infant and maternal mortality, as well as high rates of fertility and population growth. As Deputy Minister of Health (1983) and then Minister of Health (1985) Dr. Marandi promoted primary health centres, extending programmes against polio, measles, diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases. He championed reproductive health activities, encouraging breastfeeding, longer child spacing and raising the age of first birth. He convinced the government that family planning was not in conflict with Islamic teaching and that it had great value for individual and national health. Infant, child and maternal mortality have all declined in Iran, contraceptive use has risen and the birth rate has fallen.

The winner in the institutional category was the Vietnam National Committee for Population and Family Planning (NCFP). The committee was set up in 1984 as an umbrella organization to monitor and coordinate all activities in the population and family planning sector. The NCFP also formulates population policy and is partially responsible for the drafting of legal, regulatory and other population and family planning related protocols and standards. Infant mortality rates in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam have plummeted in recent years, as have fertility rates. The NCFP has been recognized as playing an important role in Vietnam's rapid fertility decline.

The two winners will receive their awards at a ceremony to be held on 9 June at the United Nations. The Committee of the United Nations Population Award is made up of representatives of United Nations Member States elected by the Economic and Social Council for a term of three years.

The current members are Burundi, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Iran, Lesotho, Netherlands, Romania and Thailand. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Nafis Sadik, serve as ex-officio members. In addition, the Committee has five eminent individuals as honorary members who serve in an advisory capacity for a renewable term of three years.

There were 33 nominations for the 1999 award, including 18 individuals and 15 institutions. Nominations can be made by: Member States; intergovernmental organizations engaged in population-related activities; population-related non-governmental organizations having consultative status with the United Nations; university professors of population or population-related studies; heads of population-related institutions; and past laureates.

CONTACT: Alex Marshall, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Tel: +1 212 297-5020 Corrie Shanahan Tel: +1 212 297-5023


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