RMH haematologist and WEHI researcher Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha has received an Australian Academy of Health and Medical Services (AAHMS) award for his pioneering contributions to preventing and treating anaemia around the world.
Professor Pasricha received the Academy’s Jian Zhou Medal for his work leading one of the largest international trials for iron-deficient children and pregnant women in Bangladesh and Malawi.
The World Health Organization has translated this research into health policies in more than 50 countries, in its efforts to halve the global prevalence of anaemia by 2025.
Anaemia is a global health concern that affects two billion people worldwide – including almost one in 20 Australian adults. It occurs when a person lacks oxygen-carrying red blood cells (haemoglobin) and iron.
Most of this burden falls to low and middle-income countries, where the condition continues to be one of the most avoidable causes of illness and death.
Professor Pasricha said he was humbled to receive this medal that honours his team’s efforts to reverse the dire health outcomes for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
“I’m very grateful for the recognition the Academy has given to the public health, translational and discovery work of my team that is working hard to improve health outcomes for the billions of people worldwide impacted by or at risk of anaemia,” he said.
“It is an honour to be awarded the Jian Zhou medal that commemorates the life and important work of Dr Zhou, whose work has helped millions of people worldwide live longer and healthier lives.”
In 2019, Professor Pasricha, along with collaborators at the University of Melbourne, University of Malawi and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research (Bangladesh), launched one of the largest international iron trials to address maternal anaemia in low-income countries. The team’s research has led to the development of six WHO guidelines that have been implemented in more than 50 south-east Asian and Sub-Saharan African countries.
Professor Pasricha said his team would continue to work towards its shared vision of eradicating the burden of anaemia around the world, starting with WHO’s target of halving the global prevalence of anaemia by 2025.
“By providing the most up-to-date, evidence-based advice to WHO and international governments, we will ensure the fight against anaemia is bolstered through better strategies to diagnose and treat the condition,” he said.
“Being able to better understand the causes of anaemia, and how to prevent, diagnose and treat it is vital knowledge that will benefit the health of people of all ages across the world, leading to improved health outcomes for millions of women and children around the world.”
AAHMS launched the Jian Zhou Medal in 2020 to recognise rising stars in Australian health and medical science.
The medal is named in honour of molecular biologist and virologist Dr Jian Zhou, who significantly improved global health outcomes for cervical cancer by co-developing and patenting the technology underpinning the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines.
The award is made possible by a generous donation from the Frazer Family Foundation, with the medal designed and minted by the Royal Australian Mint.