About the category
The Community Champion Award category is for women working at the community level, such as community directed distributors, teachers, environment assistants and community health workers who have made a remarkable impact in their work linked to NTDs.
Winner of the Community Champion Award
Agnes Ochai (Ette in Igboeze North LGA, Enugu, Nigeria)
Agnes Ochai occupies a position of great importance in the global fight against onchocerciasis. Beginning in the 1980s, Agnes began to suffer from onchocercal infection, and over the years the parasites destroyed her skin, causing indescribable itching and severe depigmentation, in patterns often called “leopard skin” because of their striking contrasts. This form of onchocerciasis is highly stigmatized, and Agnes was shunned by her community and some family members. She used her own experience to start helping other people in her village, becoming a Community Drug Distributor, reaching out to other women at risk of exclusion. Agnes is incredibly selfless and has shown unwavering personal courage and strength in unimaginably hard circumstances.
Finalists for the Community Champion Award
Susan Nkirote Mbabu (Kenya)
Susan is committed to identifying people who need Trichiasis surgery and in making sure they get the treatment they need. She also volunteers to find TB defaulters, is a Children’s Rights campaigner, and secretary for a local disability community based organisation in Kenya. Susan teaches all day before heading out for home visits in the evening. She appreciates the vital need for counselling, not just for patients but also their families and carers. She has personally supported many women through surgery and has them helped them readjust to their new lives post treatment, often working for weeks on end without pay.
Sunita Devi (53 years old, India)
Sunita is dedicated to improving health services in India, offering better immunisation programmes, polio eradication and morbidity management. She sees health awareness among school children as vital and actively participates in several school programmes herself. Sunita is outspoken in favour of human rights, women’s rights, and the reintegration of people affected by leprosy into their communities.
Nancy Komakech (Uganda)
Nancy is incredibly vocal about poor quality data and the detrimental effect it has on identifying and treating NTDs. She works tirelessly in local villages across Uganda helping them to compile good treatment data, utilising local faith and community groups to act as advocates for NTD awareness.