Kerala former health minister Shailaja Teacher honored with CEU Open Society Prize

Thiruvananthapuram: Senior CPI (M) leader and former health minister in Kerala, Shailaja Teacher on Friday was honoured with Central European University (CEU) Open Society Prize at a ceremony held in Vienna, Austria.

She was awarded in recognition of her work in developing public health and handling the COVID-19 crisis in Kerala. Shailaja had previously too garnered international laurels in her COVID-19 management in the state.

The international prize is awarded annually to persons of exceptional distinction who serve the ideals of an open society, a press release said. 

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Michael Ignatieff, CEU President and Rector, said “As former Minister of Public Health in the Indian state of Kerala, during the Covid-19 pandemic, K. K. Shailaja Teacher and the dedicated staff of the public health service demonstrated to the world that determined leadership, community-based public health, and effective communication can save lives.”

“Shailaja Teacher’s example will inspire young women to enter public service, and Kerala’s record in containing the epidemic gives hope to nations in the developing world. By awarding CEUs highest award to Shailaja Teacher, the university honors a public servant and female leader for her commitment to public health services, the bedrock of every open society,” he added.

Accepting the award, Shailaja teacher said: “As I stand here today, the world is grappling with a crisis of unprecedented scale. When we devised a strategy for battling this pandemic in Kerala, we knew that it had to be centered on securing the government’s commitment and accountability to the people, as well as by working in synergy with civil society.” 

“The most rewarding facet was the teamwork and sense of cohesiveness behind the efforts Kerala’s achievements in public health, our responsive institutions, respect for human rights, and transparency in information are reflections of the values in support of an open society,” she added.

Shailaja Teacher also addressed the CEU’s graduating class of 2021.

“To all the students who are graduating today, I want to say that learning is a continuous process; stay curious and keep learning and share your knowledge with others,” she said. 

She also added: “We live in an increasingly volatile and unpredictable world where leaders must rise to global challenges and work out new constructive solutions together, to build an equitable society. As you step out into the world, this is an opportunity for each one of you to change the world and write history. Find that leader in you!” 

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