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Margaret Sparrow & Grant Berghan Named Public Health Champs

Sexual health advocate and Maori health leader named Public Health Champions 2017


Each year the Public Health Association (PHA) honours individuals or groups for their outstanding contribution to public health action by naming them Public Health Champion for the year. This year two Public Health Champions have been chosen: Dame Margaret Sparrow and Grant Berghan.

Dame Margaret Sparrow was nominated by the Wellington Branch of the PHA for her life’s work serving and leading sexual and reproductive health services and rights in New Zealand.

Wellington Branch Spokesperson Maria Cotter says Dame Margaret, having campaigned for access to contraception and abortion for single students in the 1960s, has helped our generation have choice.

“Her work has contributed to New Zealanders’ access to safe and effective contraception and abortion; freedom of identity in gender and sexuality; and an increased de-stigmatisation and awareness of sexual health,” Maria says.

Dame Margaret worked also for 34 years at the Family Planning Association and served on the board of the Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand.

She is no stranger to formal recognition. She received an MBE in the 1987 Queen’s Birthday Honours. In 1993 she was awarded an honorary Science Doctorate from Victoria University. In that year she was also awarded the Suffrage Centennial Medal. In 2002 she was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. The Wellington Family Planning Clinic is named in her honour.

Dame Margaret says she was pleasantly surprised to receive the Public Health Champion award.

“Sexual and reproductive health and rights are not always respected as contributing to public health, and the stigma surrounding abortion often means that contributors in this field are not recognised for the important work they do.

“In learning about the contributions of previous Public Health Champions I was humbled and honoured to be in such company.”

Grant Berghan was nominated by the Auckland Branch of the PHA in recognition of his more than 20 years’ service to public health. Auckland Branch Spokesperson Heather Came-Friar describes him as “fearless and strategic in championing Maori health, Maori public health and public health in general”.

Grant has worked for several Maori health and social services organisations, the Ministry of Health and a number of district health boards. He was also a long-time board member of the Health Promotion Forum.

He co-facilitated the Maori Public Health Leadership Programme which has helped define the field of Maori public health and has a strong reputation for building the capacity and capability of Maori public health leaders.

As co-chair of STIR: Stop Institutional Racism, Grant has helped establish a boutique social movement challenging the public health community to eliminate racism and embrace Tiriti-based practice. He has courageously championed tino rangatiratanga and decolonisation, even when it has been unfashionable to do so.

Grant says public health, or hauora-aa-iwi, gives us an opportunity to better define ourselves, our values and our relationships to each other and this world.

“It's the desire to protect, promote and improve the health of communities that speaks so loudly to us as Maori, as do the fundamental tenets of social justice that underpin our sector.

“I am honoured and slightly embarrassed to receive this Award. Many thanks to the PHA and my friends who nominated me. It has been a privilege to work in this space with hundreds of like-minded people over many years.

“We make a difference.”

The Public Health Champion Awards were announced at the dinner of the Public Health Association Conference in Otautahi (Christchurch) on 3 October 2017.


ENDS


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