Dr. Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and associate professor at Michigan State University College
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha [photo courtesy of MSU Division of Public Health, College of Human Medicine, March 2017]
of Human Medicine, is an immigrant born in the United Kingdom to parents of Iraqi descent; she drew nationwide attention to the widespread lead-poisoning of children in Flint, Michigan, through the public water supply.
Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s public health activism arose from a deep wellspring of humanism – an ideal that puts human interests, values and dignity at the core of healthcare. The Vilcek and Gold foundations sought to honor the impact of humanism and compassion in medicine while spotlighting immigrant leaders in American healthcare when they joined forces to create the award.
In September 2015, Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s research uncovered high blood lead levels found in Flint children after the city’s water supply was switched to a new source as a part of austerity measures in 2014. Despite denials from state officials that the water source was responsible for the elevated blood lead levels, Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s persistent advocacy, along with that of Flint community activists, forced city management to acknowledge wrongdoing, switch the water supply back to a safe source, and commit to long-term public health measures to mitigate the lead poisoning.
She is receiving the Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare not only for this monumental work, but also for her continued activities as the director of the Michigan State University Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, serving as a champion for underprivileged kids worldwide.
Read more in the news release and in this special piece: A choiceless choice: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha on standing up and speaking out.
About the AAMC lecture & award program
The 2019 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare was presented at Learn Serve Lead 2019: The AAMC Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has been a champion for immigrant physicians and their contributions to academic medicine. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha shared her story as part of the Voices in Medicine and Society lecture series during the meeting.
To learn more about Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s lecture, click here.
The 2020 award is also a collaboration with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The award was scheduled to be presented at the 2020 AAMC Annual Meeting and Dr. Murthy was scheduled to deliver a lecture there as part of the Voices of Medicine and Society series. The 2020 in-person conference has been canceled, but the three organizations still plan to organize a presentation of the award and lecture. Details will be posted when they are available.