According to a statement from the committee, this was in recognition of Were’s tireless work since the 1970s in promoting trust between governments, health authorities, and the citizens through culturally sensitive programs.
Were’s focus has been on community health approaches, the efforts which they argue facilitate the uptake of health initiatives among the vulnerable people, including the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to nominate Dr. Miriam Were for the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Joyce Ajlouny, General Secretary of AFSC.
She added “Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical importance of public health policy and global health equity. Dr. Were’s work on community-based health initiatives around the world is powerful and essential for building a just and peaceful future.”
While expressing her gratitude for the nomination, Were pointed out that she believes in “community approach as the modality for promoting both peace and health by empowering individuals and communities to lead in solving their problems including those articulated in the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Were graduated from the University of Nairobi with a medical degree in 1973 followed by master’s and doctorate degrees in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University in 1976 and 1981, respectively.
She had served in the health sector for close to 50 years.
Some of her most notable professional positions include directing the Community-Based Health Care (CBHC) Project in Kakamega, Western Kenya; serving as Chief of Health and Nutrition in UNICEF Ethiopia and working as WHO Representative and Chief of Mission in Ethiopia.
She also directed the UN Population Fund Country Support Team (UNFPA/CST) for East and Central Africa and Anglophone West Africa.
Were is also the founder of the UZIMA Foundation, an NGO for youth-empowerment. She currently serves as Chairperson of the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) Kenya coordinating the national HIV/AIDS response in Kenya. She is on the Lancet COVID-19 Commission.
In 1947, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Friends Service Council (the precursor to QPSW) and AFSC on behalf of Quakers worldwide for their work during and after the two world wars to feed starving children and help Europe rebuild itself.
The organizations use their nomination to highlight the work of others continuing the vital work of peacebuilding.