Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 World Cancer Congress, the UICC Awards could not take place as planned. However, awards in the two categories not directly connected to the Congress – Best CEO and Best World Cancer Day Spirit – were maintained so that the work of the cancer community continues to be recognised even as it faces the unprecedented challenges raised by COVID-19.
After reviewing the highly competitive nominations that were short-listed in October, UICC is pleased to announce that Omolola Salako, Executive Director of Sebeccly Cancer Care and Support Centre in Nigeria, is the winner of the Best CEO award, while MAHAK, the Society to Support Children Suffering from Cancer in Iran, won the Best World Cancer Day Spirit award.
"15 years ago, two leaders in cancer control helped me connect the dots between the experience of losing my sister to cancer and the desire it sparked to serve and how to go about it. Today I am so privileged to receive this prestigious award, not because I set out 15 years ago to win an award but because I decided to do something good and I had leaders who showed me the way."
– Omolola Salako, Executive Director of Sebeccly Cancer Care and Support Centre, Nigeria
A self-defined Oncopreneur (Oncologist + Social entrepreneur), Omolola’s mission to fight cancer and inequity in health care started in 2003 when her sister was diagnosed with kidney cancer and passed away in less than three months. She now aims to create a safe space for people affected by cancer and be remembered as an oncologist who illuminated her patients’ struggles to cancer recovery.
Omolola is an award-winning scientist and the author of more than 25 publications in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals, as well as a lecturer and cancer researcher at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. Her research explores cancer genomics, the social determinants of health behaviours and the role of digital health in oncology.
She created the Oncopadi Digital Cancer Clinic, a technology solution to enable people affected by cancer to quickly access accurate cancer information, care and support. The digital health platform offers telemedicine and a robust cancer navigation system. It has provided online services and consultations to people from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. Since 2006, Omolola has also provided strategic oversight as a founding board member of Sebeccly Cancer Care, a launchpad for several impact-driven cancer programmes.
"It is my pleasure to thank UICC for this award and I am very happy to receive it for my colleagues and my Board. I would also like to congratulate the Young Leaders of UICC and the next generation of CEOs in the cancer control programmes."
– Arasb Ahmadian, CEO of MAHAK
The Society to Support Children Suffering from Cancer in Iran, MAHAK, worked alongside a diverse group of partners and deployed tangible efforts to raise awareness about cancer in Iran in the lead up to and on World Cancer Day. These partners included the capital city of Tehran, three shopping malls, Iran’s leading chain store, schools, international partners and high-profile celebrities, including athletes and artists.
Their World Cancer Day campaign engaged with over 6,000 customers at two popular shopping malls as well as at a number of retail locations across the country, where the organisation’s volunteers and staff were on hand to invite the public to learn more about childhood cancer They further drew attention nationally by illuminating two of the country’s most prominent landmarks: the Azadi Tower and Sana Shopping Center.
MAHAK also reached out to their international network and encouraged their partners in Germany, Georgia and the United States to implement similar World Cancer Day activities locally.MAHAK’s out-of-the-box thinking helped to deliver a wide-reaching campaign, where partnership and collaboration played a critical role. The award-winning campaign showed strong evolution and growth, reaching thousands of people in their country and outside of its borders.
"Who would have thought a year ago that we would be meeting in this virtual way for such an important ceremony. Whatever I say today will pale before the inspiration that I have seen from the start of this event. The work of Omolola, the work of MAHAK, our winners today, the CEOs that were nominated and the work that they are doing, and the Young Leaders – it has all been so inspiring and will take us a long way in our fight against cancer."
– Prof Anil D'Cruz, President of UICC 2020-2022