Skip to main content

A Malian physician will receive $100,000 for using health data to save children’s lives through a comprehensive vaccination program.

Dr. Samba Sow generated metrics on the disease burden related to Hib – Haemophilus influenzae type b disease – and used the metrics to secure political and financial support to vaccinate thousands of children against the disease. He spearheaded a nationwide delivery campaign for the vaccine, and, as a result, the country has seen an 80 percent decline in new Hib cases.

“Dr. Sow has devoted his career to public health and has distinguished himself in the prevention of deaths and the spread of diseases through vaccines,” said IHME’s Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “It is an honor to bestow upon him the fourth annual Roux Prize recognizing an individual who has used health evidence in bold ways to make people healthier.”

The award was presented Oct. 4 at an event in Washington, D.C. IHME’s annual Roux Prize encourages the use of evidence in health decision-making.  The three previous prizes were awarded to the former mayor of Cali, Colombia; Rwanda’s minister of health; and an epidemiologist in the Philippines.

Dr. Sow established Mali’s first blood culture surveillance system for children younger than 5 years with illnesses related to high fever. Data from that system revealed a burden of invasive H. influenza type b (Hib), pneumococcus and other infections. He later established surveillance systems for pneumonia and diarrhea, and was the leading Malian investigator on a landmark study confirming rotavirus as the leading cause of severe dehydrating gastroenteritis among children in Mali.

Because of his work in promoting the Hib vaccine and his help in responding to an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Dr. Sow was asked by the President of Mali to serve as the country’s Minister of Health, a post he assumed in April of this year. Dr. Sow also continues to work toward improving health metrics sciences through the Global Burden of Disease study (GBD), which recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its first publication in the international medical journal, The Lancet.

“Now that we have opportunities and systems like the GBD, we will have to take that opportunity to strengthen our national system, to question our own data, by looking at other data from other places,” he said.

Learn more about the 2017 Roux Prize. 


Leave a Reply