Maternal Health Task Force Honors 10 Global Visionaries for Commitment to Advancing Women’s Health

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By: Staff, Maternal Health Task Force

In honor of its 10th anniversary, the Maternal Health Task Force has presented 10 distinguished pioneers from around the world with the inaugural Maternal Health Visionary Award. This award recognizes individuals who have made an impact, pushed for innovation, inspired others, exhibited sound leadership and demonstrated a powerful vision for the future of maternal health.

“We are delighted to offer this Visionary Award to 10 leaders who have made a significant impact on advancing maternal health worldwide,” said Dr. Ana Langer, director of the Maternal Health Task Force and professor of the practice of public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “As we celebrate the past 10 years of the Maternal Health Task Force, we want to recognize the important achievements of our collective efforts and those of these talented individuals that will help keep us on the path towards our goal of ending preventable maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide.”

The recipients of the Maternal Health Visionary Award are:
Fatemeh Ahmadi, President of the Department of Health School Curriculum Enrichment at the Mahdavi Institute, Iran
Pushpa Chaudhary, Secretary of the Ministry of Health & Population in the Government of Nepal, Nepal
Joia Crear-Perry, Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, United States
Darwin Dela Cruz Diaz, Nurse Activity Manager at Medecins Sans Frontieres, Bangladesh
Hawa Abdullahi Elmi, Lead of the National Midwifery Training Schools & Vice President of the Somali Midwifery Association, Somalia
Lealaiauloto Liai Iosefa-Siitia, Executive Director of the Samoa Family Health Association, Samoa
Theresa Shaver, Senior Maternal Health Advisor at USAID, United States
Özge Tunçalp, Scientist at the World Health Organization, Switzerland
Linda Valencia, Senior Program Officer at Planned Parenthood Global, Guatemala
Westone Khisa Wakasiaka, Fistula Surgeon and Obstetrician at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya

In addition to the Visionary Award announcement, the Maternal Health Task Force hosted a Symposium in Boston on Monday, 17 September 2018, to celebrate its anniversary, showcase achievements in global maternal health and chart a course forward for critical steps to end preventable maternal mortality and optimize maternal health around the world. Distinguished speakers at the event included: Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda, Former President of Malawi; Christy Turlington Burns, Founder and CEO of Every Mother Counts; Nina Martin, Reporter at ProPublica; and Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers.

To learn more about the Visionary Award recipients and their achievements, please visit

About the Maternal Health Task Force
Ten years ago, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) was founded with the vision of creating a strong, well-informed and collaborative global community focused on ending preventable maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide. The MHTF is the flagship maternal health project of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It serves as a platform that generates and disseminates high-quality scientific research, surfaces key issues for critical discussion, consensus building and policy advocacy; supports emerging professionals in maternal newborn health; and connects researchers, policy-makers, providers and other stakeholders in the global maternal newborn health field.

About the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health traces its roots to public health activism at the beginning of the last century, a time of energetic social reform. From the start, faculty were expected to commit themselves to research as well as teaching. In 1946, no longer affiliated with the medical school, the School became an independent, degree-granting body. Today, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere.