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"Dr. Mike Ryan's Global Leadership Has Made Irish People Proud" - Higgins

File Image: WHO

He received a presidential award for his services during the pandemic.

Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme, has received a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for his global contributions during the pandemic. 

President Higgins presented Dr Ryan with the  Award in Áras an Uachtaráin, in recognition of his enormous service to global public health over the course of a number of decades.

The award recognises the contribution of members of the Irish diaspora.

Dr Ryan briefed President Higgins on the WHO’s work to date to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including the challenges posed by the Omicron outbreak and also discussed the importance of equitable vaccine access with the President.

He thanked the President for offering his support towards achieving the important principle of universal access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The President and Dr Ryan discussed the facts presented at the press briefing of 29th December by WHO Director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and leading members of his team, including Dr Ryan.

They discussed what recent figures are showing, extremely low vaccination rates in the global south, and in Africa in particular, with only 6% of people living in Africa fully vaccinated and 27% of healthcare workers across Africa fully vaccinated.

Dr Ryan has suggested where Ireland could make an immediate contribution would be perhaps in supporting the Technology Transfer Hub in South Africa through accelerating training and biomanufacturing.

President Higgins commented: “Dr Ryan has rendered an enormous service to global public health over many decades and in doing so has raised the reputation and standing of Ireland.

"His global leadership on this issue has made all Irish people proud, in the best possible form of contribution to global health without borders," he insisted.

"Dr Ryan has exhibited extraordinary resolve and focus, promoting the adoption of original, comprehensive and carefully planned strategies to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus, while balancing the need to ensure the protection of livelihoods and human rights.

"He has consistently advocated for the sharing of knowledge and technology with those who have the least access to them, especially in the developing world," he said.



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