Another feather in Dr Cyrus Poonawalla's hat

Jun 07, 2018, 07:52 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

Poonawalla, fondly known as one of the 'seven vaccine heroes of the world,' was conferred with an honorary science degree for his outstanding contribution to the field of vaccination by the University of Massachusetts in the US

Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla
Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla

On June 3, Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, 76, joined the ranks of former US President Barack Obama and former Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Poonawalla, fondly known as one of the 'seven vaccine heroes of the world,' was conferred with an honorary science degree for his outstanding contribution to the field of vaccination by the University of Massachusetts in the US.

Poonawalla is the first Indian to be conferred with the honorary degree. "We're being recognised because we've single-handedly saved more than 20 million children in India over the past 30 years through vaccination," said Poonawalla, chairman of the Poonawalla Group.

"We need to treat the field of vaccination with the respect it deserves. We need more precautionary measures than cures for the betterment of human life, and vaccination is one such measure. The most important challenge for a developing country like ours is the ability to build a good infrastructure equivalent to current manufacturing practices found across Europe and the US," he said.

Poonawala further said, "India has a huge vaccination problem and it can only be fixed through mass immunisation by government agencies. The Modi government seems to have taken it seriously."

This is not the first feather in Poonawalla's hat. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2005 for his contribution to medicine, and a lifetime achievement by then prime minister Manmohan Singh. He's now ranked as the 13th richest person in India, with a net worth of nearly $9 billion.

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