Asian Health Leaders Recognized On BBC’s 100 Women List

For their pioneering efforts amid COVID-19, three health experts from Pakistan, Singapore and South Korea were named to the BBC’s annual 100 Women list.

AsianScientist (Nov. 27, 2020) – Three public health and infectious disease experts hailing from Pakistan, Singapore and South Korea have earned their place on BBC’s 100 Women 2020. The full list was unveiled on November 24, 2020.

In 2013, the BBC launched the first-ever 100 Women list in hopes of addressing the perennial under-representation of women in the media. Since then, the broadcasting company has recognized 100 inspiring and influential women around the world each year—from grassroots leaders to headlining luminaries.

According to the BBC, the 2020 edition of 100 Women is meant to highlight those “leading change and making a difference during these turbulent times”—a fitting theme in light of COVID-19. True enough, the first place on this year’s edition was dedicated to the unsung heroes who have lost their lives amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Among the trailblazers highlighted on the list are three health experts from Asia, namely Pakistan’s Dr. Sania Nishtar, Singapore’s Dr. Leo Yee-Sin and South Korea’s Dr. Jeong Eun-kyeong.

Nishtar is currently the Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Initially trained as a cardiologist, her achievements include founding the health policy think tank Heartfile, and heading the Ehsaas Poverty Alleviation programme, which provides basic resources like mobile banking and saving accounts to millions of Pakistanis.

“The dramatic impact of COVID-19 presents us with a once-in-a generation chance to build a fairer world and bring an end to poverty, inequality and the climate crisis,” shared Nishtar. “For this, women must be equal, empowered stakeholders.”

As executive director of Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases, Leo is no stranger to health emergencies like COVID-19. Aside from spending decades improving local HIV patient care, she has also successfully led the country through numerous outbreaks including SARS and Zika virus. Today, Leo remains at the forefront of the city-state’s battle against the coronavirus.

“COVID-19 has changed everyone’s life. However, it has not changed the prominence of female leadership. Those countering the virus at the frontline are predominantly women, and they do so with courage, strength and resilience,” said Leo.

Described as a ‘virus-hunter,’ Jeong is another pioneering woman leading her country’s pandemic response. As the commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, Jeong gained prominence for her daily briefings on South Korea’s COVID-19 situation. For her efforts, she was also recognized by TIME magazine as one of 2020’s 100 Most Influential People.

“I will make the utmost effort to help the world become safer by strengthening [its] capabilities against disease,” concluded Jeong.

Nishtar, Leo and Jeong were among the many candidates shortlisted by BBC’s network of World Service language teams for their significant achievements. The pool of names was then assessed against 2020’s theme of women leading change, with the final list assembled according to regional representation and impartiality.


Source: BBC; Illustration: Oi Keat Lam/Asian Scientist Magazine.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

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