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Honoring Fred Sai, a Relentless Champion

I recently attended the annual meeting of the Partners in Population and Development (PPD) and the International Conference on “Family Planning, Population Dynamics and Climate Change,” which PPD organized jointly with the Ministry of Social Development of the Republic of South Africa. Both events took place in Pretoria from October 31-November 4, 2011. During the conference, PPD honored Professor Fred Sai with a lifetime achievement award for promoting South-to-South cooperation.

The award followed many bestowed on Professor Sai,  including the 1993 United Nations Population Award and the 1995 Prince Mahidol Award in recognition of his long-standing involvement in global leadership on international family planning and population issues. Professor Sai is a Ghanaian family health physician, who trained at the universities of London, Edinburgh, and Harvard, and has been a relentless champion of family planning and reproductive health. He has published extensively on a wide range of related social and ethical issues.

In 2009, Family Health International honored Professor Sai for his global leadership in health, particularly for his immense contributions as an advocate for nutrition, maternal health, reproductive health, and family planning as critical components in comprehensive health care in his native country, Ghana, and throughout Africa.

In Pretoria, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Professor Sai for an uplifting breakfast conversation. I was deeply inspired and touched by the man’s wisdom and relentless commitment to reproductive health and women’s issues. He continues to be passionate about Africa, the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, and the essential role of strong leaders in advancing reproductive health and promoting family planning. His book, Adam and Eve and the Serpent: Breaking the Bonds to Free Africa’s Women, and his collection of essays, Fred Sai Speaks, capture his passion and his views on reproductive health.

As our community prepares for the International Family Planning Conference in Dakar, Senegal later this month, we at IntraHealth International salute Professor Sai’s achievements and congratulate him on his latest award. We join PPD, FHI 360, and other organizations that have already done so to pay tribute to Professor Sai and renew the call for all of us to redouble our efforts as advocates for family planning as a health issue and as a fundamental human right.