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Director General of Ethiopia’s Food & Drug Authority to be Honored for Leadership in Fight Against Tobacco Use

September 29, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ms. Heran Gerba Borta of Ethiopia has been chosen to receive the 2021 Judy Wilkenfeld Award for International Tobacco Control Excellence for her remarkable accomplishments in the global fight against tobacco use. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids will present Ms. Borta with the award at its virtual awards celebration on September 29. 

The Wilkenfeld Award was established in honor of the late Judy Wilkenfeld, the founder of Tobacco-Free Kids’ international program. Wilkenfeld was a tireless leader in the effort to reduce tobacco use and in the adoption of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the influential international treaty that commits countries to take strong action to reduce tobacco use. The award is given annually to international tobacco control advocates who have made extraordinary contributions to reducing tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries and who both inspire and enable others to do the same in the spirit exemplified by Wilkenfeld. 

Ms. Borta serves as the Director-General of Ethiopia’s Food and Drug Authority (EFDA), the national authority leading the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), and is the first woman and youngest official to be appointed to this position. As a mentor, leader and fierce advocate for public health, Ms. Borta is a deserving recipient of this prestigious award. 

Despite aggressive tobacco industry interference, Ms. Borta has fought vigorously for strong and effective tobacco control policies to protect Ethiopian citizens and the country’s significant youth population. Her leadership was a critical factor in the Ethiopian government’s passing of one of the world’s strongest tobacco control laws, which includes bans on flavored tobacco products, tobacco advertising and the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old, as well as comprehensive smoke-free regulations and the inclusion of graphic health warnings on 70 percent of tobacco packages. Ms. Borta’s unwavering commitment to protecting public health also led to visible progress in making Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, smoke-free, setting a positive example for the rest of the country and the world. 

“The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is delighted to recognize Ms. Heran Borta for her significant achievements that have changed the course of tobacco control in Ethiopia,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Ms. Borta’s commitment to protecting Ethiopians from the tobacco industry and its harmful products should be an inspiration to public health leaders in Africa and around the world.”

Ms. Borta is known by her colleagues as both an inspiration and a role model for her willingness to listen to others, her ability to bring individuals together to build consensus, and for her unwavering commitment to protecting the health of Ethiopians. Ms. Borta is also the recipient of the World Health Organization’s 2021 World No Tobacco Day Award in the Africa Region for her outstanding contributions to tobacco control efforts. The Judy Wilkenfeld Award for International Tobacco Control Excellence is a fitting recognition of the exemplary tobacco control work and accomplishments of Ms. Borta and her team.

To watch a livestream of the awards ceremony, please visit: on September 29.