The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will honor H. Kenneth Walker, MD, professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, and Dr. Irakli Sasania, the chief administrator of M. Iashvili Central Children's Hospital in Tbilisi, Georgia, with its Outstanding Citizen Achievement Citation for their leadership of a groundbreaking, volunteer collaboration between medical professionals in their respective institutions and communities. The citation will be presented to Dr. Walker at a dinner hosted by USAID on Wednesday, April 19, at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta. Dr. Sasania will be honored separately at a June 2006 ceremony in Tbilisi.
Recipients of this prestigious honor are chosen for their contribution to the realization of USAID's mission to provide economic development and humanitarian assistance around the world. Only eight other individuals working in the Europe and Eurasia region have received this citation since its inception.
Through their joint efforts, vision, motivation, and commitment to improving health care for the Georgian people, the honorees established the first modern pediatric emergency room in a pediatric hospital in any post-Soviet country. Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili noted in a speech at the opening of the ER unit, "This unit will meet one of our most urgent needs." In a country where many citizens, including children, cannot receive specialized care because they do not have the means to pay for medical services, the ER fulfills an especially critical need. The President added, "This unit will help provide highly qualified critical care to all children without exception."
"This extraordinary collaboration has markedly improved health outcomes for Georgian children who require specialized emergency care," said Drew W. Luten III, USAID acting assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia. "Partnerships such as these are fundamental to lasting, sustainable progress across the globe."
Dr. Walker has been dedicated to establishing State of Georgia-Republic of Georgia medical partnership projects for over a decade and has cultivated alliances with high-level officials at home and abroad. In tribute to his enduring commitment and tireless efforts, President Saakashvili declared Dr. Walker an Honorary Citizen of Georgia on December 17, 2004.
The ceremony honoring Dr. Walker will include remarks by Dr. Sasania, Emory President James W. Wagner, and top U.S. and Georgian Government officials and USAID regional officials, including Mr. Luten; J. Edward Fox, assistant administrator, USAID Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs; James P. Smith, executive director, American International Health Alliance; and David Sikharulidze, Georgian Ambassador to the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico.
A short documentary film about the partnership and Emory University's work in Georgia, made especially for the occasion, will premiere at the Atlanta ceremony. For more information on the USAID Bureau for Europe & Eurasia Outstanding Citizen Award: http://www.usaid.gov/locations/europe_eurasia/press/pub_rec/