Former, Kerala Health Minister, KK. Shailaja Teacher has been selected for this years Central Europian University (CEU), Open Society Prize, the ceremony for which was held on Friday in Vienna.
Michael Ignatieff, President of the CEU, stated that: “As a former Miister of Public Health in the Indian state of Keral, during the Covid-19 pandemic, KK. 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 saves lives”
Previous year’s recipients of the award include prominent economist and Nobel Prize laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Laureate of Nobel Prize in Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, President of Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, among others.
The Former Health Minster in her acceptance speech stated: ” As I stand here today, the world is grappling with a crises of unprecedented scale. When we devised a strategy for battling the pandemic in Kerala, we knew that it had to be centered on securing the government’scommitment and accountability to the people, as well as by working in syndergy with civil society.”
Shailaja’s leadership during the days of the health crisis had been hailed by the public. During her term as health minister, Kerala witnessed an unprecedented growth of the public health system, especially at the grassroots level. This has largely helped Kerala fight the Covid-19 pandemic. At one time, party circles had even highlighted Shailaja as the successor to Pinarayi Vijayan, present CM of the state.
“Timely interventions have undoubtedly helped to keep the mortality rate below 0.5% when faced ith the pandemic” – Shailaja on the measures taken during the pandemic.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala, has been widely criticised for leaving out Shailaja from the new Cabinet, despite her celebrated track record in handling the Covid-19 and Nipah outbreaks in the state.