Global perspective Human stories

Demographer, Ethiopian hospital winners of UN population award

Demographer, Ethiopian hospital winners of UN population award

Internationally acclaimed demographer John C. Caldwell and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, a pioneer in the treatment of childbirth injuries, have won the 2004 United Nations Population Award, given each year to honour outstanding work in population activities and in the improvement of the health and welfare of individuals.

The awards, announced yesterday by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), will be presented in July at a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York. Each winner will receive a certificate, a gold medal and an equal share of a monetary prize.

Mr. Caldwell, this year's winner in the individual category, is one of the most influential and prolific scientists in the field of population, according to nomination papers sent to the award committee. The Emeritus Professor of Demography in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University in Canberra has published well over 300 articles and his work to frame the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa as a demographic, epidemiological and sociocultural phenomenon is unparalleled.

Mr. Caldwell's 1976 paper, "Restatement of demographic transition theory," which examines changing directions of intergenerational wealth flows, remains the single most influential work in this area, according to the nomination papers. The majority of his research concentrates on sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital won the award for outstanding achievement as an institution. Founded in 1974, it uniquely specializes in the treatment and care of women living with obstetric fistula, a devastating childbirth injury that damages a woman's birth canal and leaves her incontinent.

The hospital provides free medical care to over 1,200 women annually and has treated over 25,000 women. It uses a holistic approach to restore the health and dignity of fistula sufferers and offers literacy classes, physiotherapy and support to help women rejoin their communities once they are cured. The hospital has also become a teaching institution for surgeons throughout Ethiopia and the developing world.