Thai "Condom King" wins award
Tue May 29, 2007 3:03pm
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A non-profit family-planning group founded by Thailand's "Condom King" has won the $1 million Gates Award for Global Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Tuesday.
The Population and Community Development Association of Thailand (PDA) won the 2007 award in recognition of its work in family planning and AIDS prevention, the foundation said.
"Mechai Viravaidya is widely known as Thailand's 'Condom King,' a testament to his extraordinary popularity as well as his personal leadership in family planning and HIV prevention," Dr. Nils Daulaire, president and chief executive officer of the Global Health Council, said in a statement.
"The world needs more leaders like Mechai, who are willing to tackle taboo subjects like sex and HIV/AIDS directly in order to save lives."
As part of the message, Viravaidya's group runs the popular Cabbages and Condoms restaurant in central Bangkok, serving Thai cuisine in a leafy garden decked out with holiday lights.
The name refers to his goal of making condoms as common as the leafy vegetable.
The Gates Foundation, run by the multibillionaire founder of Microsoft and his wife, said the PDA was set up in 1974 to provide family planning education to women in rural Thailand.
It helped establish Thailand's national HIV prevention campaign in 1991, which led to a dramatic decline in new infections. Thailand's program is perhaps best known for its liberal use of condoms.
"PDA has trained nearly 3,000 health workers from 50 countries in HIV prevention, family planning, adolescent reproductive health, and other health issues," the Gates Foundation said.