This year's Olle Hansson Award to Dr. K Bala
22 May 2006
The Olle Hansson Award recognizes the work of individuals from developing countries who have contributed most to promoting the concepts of essential drugs and their rational use and increasing the awareness among consumers of the dangers of irrational and hazardous drugs.
The Olle Hansson Award 2006 has been awarded to Dr Kumariah Balasubramaniam an expert in health and pharmaceuticals who has held important positions at various levels both locally and internationally in the sphere of health and pharmaceuticals. In recognition of his contributions towards rational use of medicines and access to essential medicines during several years and his continued efforts in ensuring health for all Dr Balasubramaniam would receive this award from Dr Prem Chandran John the Chairperson, Governing Council, HAIAP at a simple ceremony in Colombo.
Dr Balasubramaniam, a teacher, author, strategist, guide and mentor and above all a health activist hails from Jaffna, Sri Lanka. He graduated in medicine from the University of Sri Lanka and worked in the public sector for a few years. In the early 1960s he joined the University of Peradeniya, Department of Pharmacology to work under the late Prof Senaka Bibile who introduced the well known Pharmaceutical reforms for Sri Lanka in 1972.
He was appointed Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Sri Lanka in 1975. In 1978 he left Sri Lanka to join the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Geneva as the Senior Pharmaceutical Advisor and worked till 1986. During his career in UNCTAD, he visited several developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to advise Ministries of Health in developing countries to rationalize their pharmaceutical supply system and have rational national drug policies.
In 1987 he joined Consumers International Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (CIROAP) as the Co-ordinator for Action for Rational Drugs in Asia (ARDA) which was relocated to Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2002 and renamed Health Action International Asia Pacific (HAIAP).
During his 30 year stint in the field of pharmaceuticals and health Dr Balasubramaniam has received many a honour and award including the Commonwealth Vice – Chancellors’ Fellowship Award 1994/95, Australia. He has been a part of many an affiliation including; member of the Advisory Board of the HAI/WHO Medicine Price Project, Member of Task Force 5, Access to Medicines Millennium Development Goals, Member of the Editorial Board of PLoS Medicine etc. He has published innumerable papers on a variety of topics ranging from rational use of drugs to drug prices, availability and access to medicines, intellectual property rights and access to medicines, poverty and health etc.
His knowledge, expertise, exposure, representation at local and international conferences, networking skills have influenced global pharmaceutical thinking to a great extent and have resulted in the initiation of movements such as the global Peoples Health Movement (PHM).
Health Action International Asia-Pacific is a network of organizations and individuals involved in health and pharmaceutical issues. HAI Asia-Pacific upholds health as a fundamental human right and aspires for a just and equitable society.