Namibian eye doctor wins first UN Nelson Mandela Prize


The President of the United Nations General Assembly announced on Monday that the winners of the inaugural United Nations Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela Prize are Namibian ophthalmologist Dr Helena Mandume and Portuguese lawyer and politician, Jorge Sampaio

In the United Nations Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela Prize’s first year ever, the selection committee decided to award the prize to two recipients: Dr Helena Ndume, an ophthalmologist from Namibia and Portuguese politician Jorge Fernando Branco Sampaio who served as President of the country from 1996 to 2006.

Dr Mandume provides free ophthalmology services to sufferers of blindness and eye-related diseases in Namibia. From 2001 to 2007 she was vice-chairperson of the Namibian Red Cross Society and her charitable work has helped tens of thousands of Namibians address their eye illnesses.

Her co-laureate, Jorge Sampaio, has been awarded the distinction for his part in the “struggle to restore democracy in Portugal – including throughout his tenure as Lisbon’s Mayor from 1989 to 1995 and as the 18th President of the Republic from 1996 to 2006.”

On announcing the prize winners, Sam Kutesa, President of the 69th session of the General Assembly said, “The prize recognizes the achievements of those who dedicate their lives to the service of humanity by promoting UN purposes and principles while honouring Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life and legacy of reconciliation, political transition and social transformation,”.

The award ceremony will take place on 24 July 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York as part of the annual UN commemoration of International Nelson Mandela Day. The Day is typically celebrated on the late South African leader’s birthday, 18 July, when the UN joins a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of time to helping others.

Source: United Nations News Centre