Reach Award

Odinaka Obeta, a Nigerian biomedical scientist, has been named as a finalist of the Recognising Excellence Around Champions of Health (REACH) Awards 2023.

Mr Obeta from Enugu State, Nigeria; Whitney Mwangi from Kenya, and Maha Rehman from Pakistan were recognised under the Rising Champions in Global Health category of the awards as part of the ongoing #COP28 climate change conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Ms Mwangi, the East Africa co-lead for the African Leaders Malaria Alliance Youth Advisory Council, was announced the winner of the rising champion category.

The REACH award, championed by a non-governmental organisation, Reaching the Last Mile (RLM), is the first-ever health event to be held as part of the Conference of Parties (COP) in 28 years.

According to the information on the official website of RLM, the REACH awards recognise those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and commitment to disease elimination.

The group said the 2023 edition spotlights health workers who played a vital role in the COVID-19 response and showcased exceptional courage while keeping the world safe.

“From boots-on-the-ground innovators to local community health workers, the REACH Awards aim to celebrate critical contributions from those on the front lines of disease elimination,” it added.

“The awards underscore the belief of Mohamed bin-Zayed, President of the UAE, that no one should suffer from a preventable disease.”

The global health award was held on 3 December at the Reaching the Last Mile forum.

As the Executive Director of Block Malaria Africa Initiative, Mr Obeta leads a pioneering effort to combat malaria among the most at-risk populations across Nigeria.

He also serves as the West Africa Lead for the African Leaders Malaria Alliance Youth Advisory Council. He is the first African recipient of the 25Under25 Global Legacy Award by Common Purpose UK in 2022.

“Mid-November 2023, I was notified with a congratulatory email from the team at RLM for making the top five in the award category out of more than 800 nominations,” Mr Obeta said.

“About a week later, another congratulatory email notified me of my selection into the top three. So the event was held on 3 December at RLM Forum at the COP28 in Dubai.”

Ms Mwangi, according to RLM, currently works as a health communications and advocacy specialist at the African Union Commission.

“In addition to her leadership on malaria, Mwangi founded Story Book Africa, an advocacy initiative that uses storytelling to empower African youth to make informed decisions about their health and development,” RLM noted.

Ms Rehman, on the other hand, is a prominent figure in public health in Pakistan, particularly in advocating for youth participation in activism and health rights.

“Her influence is evident through her positions as the Global Director of Human Rights and Peace for the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA) and the President of IFMSA-Pakistan, representing 75,000 medical students across Pakistan,” RLM noted.

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