Kerala has done it again! This southern state of India won a United Nations award on Thursday for its “outstanding contribution” towards the “non-communicable diseases-related sustainable development goals”. The state is also setting a benchmark in fighting, preventing and containing the spread of the novel coronavirus since the beginning. Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said this is a proud moment for the state and that the award is a recognition of the tireless service of Kerala to the health sector.

“The state government has arranged facilities from the basic public health centres to hospitals at all levels to treat the lifestyle diseases,” Shailaja said in a statement after the UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) announced the award this year.

“We were able to control the death rate during the Covid-19 period as we were able to focus on the NCDs,” said the popular leader, Shailaja expressing gratitude.

Announcing the good news on Twitter, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote:

Shailaja further mentioned about the frontline health workers serving the state day and night and congratulated them on this achievement.

This award was given on the basis of the results earned during 2019 on “the multisectoral action in the prevention and control of NCDs, mental health and the wider NCD-related sustainable development goals (SDGs),” as per reports. “In addition, the state-of-the-art lung disease control program, cancer treatment program and paralysis control program were also considered for the award,” the statement said.

This is the first time, Kerala has been recognised for this annual award. In June, Shailaja was named as the winner of World’s Top 50 Thinkers of COVID-19 Age by UK-based Prospect Magazine. Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand took the second place. The Kerala Health Minister was also among the handpicked world leaders invited to speak on the occasion of the United Nations Public Service Day.

Shailaja Teacher

The former high school teacher-turned politician had earlier shared her experiences of tackling the Nipah virus and the two devastating floods that happened in the state in 2018 and 2019 and how the state was able to recognise and contain the coronavirus outbreak at an early stage. She said she believes in the importance of the health sector and has been successfully securing a low fatality rate in the state.

Combating the coronavirus

The 63-year-old minister is known to have established a rapid response team and control rooms in the 14 districts as the first step to control the spread.  The state barred international flights two days before the country went into lockdown. Under her guidance, out of the 6.3 lakh migrant workers who were being sheltered in government run-camps across India, Kerala cared for around half – 47 percent, who were later slowly moved to their natives via charter trains, reported The Wire.

Feature Image Credit: Mathrubhumi English

Also Read: Kerala’s Rockstar Health Minister KK Shailaja, Fighting Corona Head On



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