Peter Piot receives lifetime achievement award for outstanding contribution to global health

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus presented the honour to the former LSHTM Director at the World Health Assembly in Geneva
Professor Peter Piot gives remarks after receiving a Global Health Leader Award from WHO Director-General

Professor Baron Peter Piot has been recognised for his dedication to improving health with a lifetime achievement award from the World Health Organization (WHO).

He and fellow distinguished scientist Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum received the Director-General’s Global Leaders Awards at the 76th World Health Assembly.

Both recipients were closely involved in the discovery of Ebola virus disease in 1976 before advancing to leadership positions in global health.

Professor Piot was Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine from 2010-2021 and is Handa Professor of Global Health. He has provided crucial leadership in response to major global health challenges and outbreaks including the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa and COVID-19. From 1995-2008, he was founding Executive Director of UNAIDS, leading the organisation to become the chief advocate for worldwide action against HIV/AIDS.

In his acceptance speech, Professor Piot highlighted the importance of the WHO as a neutral convener bringing together different nations and sectors towards a common goal of better health for all, and warned the world must be ready when the next pandemic hits.

He said: “Covid is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), but it is definitely not over… And I am very concerned that we are all trying asap to forget these terrible three years behind us which, psychologically, is understandable, but it would be unforgivable when the next epidemic hits us – and that next epidemic is unavoidable, let me assure you.

“We will need to keep epidemic preparedness and prevention on the highest political agendas, but in addition an evermore effective, more focused and well-funded WHO, plus strong regional entities.”

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “These outstanding individuals embody lifelong dedication, relentless advocacy, a commitment to equity, and selfless service of humanity and people’s health.

“In a time of multiple emergencies, health crises, and conflict, we recognise that leadership in public health and science are more important than ever to advance global health. Our awardees today personify that passion.”

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