Binagwaho wins $100,000 Roux Prize
Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwandaâ€™s minister of health has won the Roux Prize, for turning evidence into health impact, rebuilding her country’s health system and creating initiatives to improve indoor air quality and combat neonatal deaths.
Binagwaho is the second winner of the Roux Prize, worth a US$100,000 which is given by theÂ Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)Â at the University of Washington and is named for founding board memberÂ David RouxÂ and his wife, Barbara.
Roux Prize launched in November 2013 and it is the worldâ€™s largest award for evidence-based public health achievement. She will be presented with the Roux Prize at a ceremony in Washington, DC, today on October 21.
Dr. Binagwahoâ€™s commitment to acting on data has shaped the philosophy of Rwandaâ€™s health ministry.
The health minister regards Global Burden of Disease data as a universal language for policy decision-making in the health sector. â€œWe can see by studying those [GBD] figures where the next problem is â€“ and we can start to work on it,â€ she maintains.
Her work was part of a wider effort led by the government of Rwanda to rebuild the country from the ground up and ensure that even the poorest citizens could receive health care.
After directly caring for patients as a physician, Dr. Binagwaho served as Executive Secretary of the National AIDS Control Commission and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health. In 2011, she was appointed Minister of Health.
Along with Dr. Bingawaho, more than 20 Rwandans now collaborate on the GBD study.
â€œThe Global Burden of Disease, by creating and generating data, helps us understand where we need to invest the next dollar, the next effort, the next education initiative,â€ said Dr. Binagwaho.
Dr. Binagwaho has overseen a remarkable improvement in the health of Rwandans. GBD data revealed that between 1990 and 2013, Rwandan life expectancy increased by about 15 years for both men and women, one of the strongest increases of any country in the world.
Healthy life expectancy has also risen dramatically, by roughly 12 years for both sexes since 1990. Much of this improvement can be mapped directly to policies and investments that Dr. Binagwaho has instituted.
For example, after looking at GBD estimates and finding that household air pollution was the leading risk factor for premature death and disability in the country, Rwanda started a program to distribute 1 million clean cookstoves to the most vulnerable households.
â€œWhether you are in the capital of Kigali or out in a rural hospital, health policy decisions are being made based on data in Rwanda,â€ said Tom Achoki, IHME Director of African Initiatives. â€œThe Honorable Minister has made it a priority not only to educate the Ministry in how to produce and analyze quality data, but how to use data to effectively and efficiently overcome Rwandaâ€™s health challenges.â€
â€œIn the course of her work leading Rwandaâ€™s health policy and planning, Honorable Minister Binagwaho has come to embody what Dave and Barbara Roux had in mind when they conceptualized the Roux Prize: using rigorously derived evidence to improve health in her community,â€ said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of IHME and co-founder of GBD.
â€œDr. Binagwaho is not just using disease burden data to improve health â€“ she and her staff at the Ministry of Health are committed to making the Global Burden of Disease study stronger and more useful by vetting its results and addressing data gaps.â€ said Dr Murray.
Now an ongoing enterprise with annual updates, GBD is an international, collaborative effort with more than 1,400 researchers in 120 countries, led by IHME. Results are regularly published in peer-reviewed journals for more than 300 diseases, injuries, and risk factors, by age, gender, and country.
The Roux Prize is intended for anyone who has applied health data and evidence in innovative ways to improve population health. Nominees may come from anywhere in the world and could include, but are not limited to, staff in government agencies, researchers at academic institutions, volunteers in charitable organizations, or health providers working in the community.