Dr. Richard Horton has been at the helm of The Lancet for a quarter century, but his vision extends far beyond publishing medical research.
As Editor-in-Chief, he has overseen the integrated editorial mission for The Lancet family of journals, which promote equity, the right to health, and social justice.
“We believe the purpose of creating knowledge isn't just publication, but to use that knowledge to accelerate social progress and to hold those in power accountable for their promises and commitments," Dr. Horton stated, in accepting a prestigious award to honor his contributions.
Earlier this month, Dr. Horton was awarded the 2019 Roux Prize for his accomplishments as one of the world’s most “committed, articulate, and influential advocates for population health.” The annual Roux Prize is awarded to individuals on the front lines of global health innovation in data science who use burden of disease data in bold ways to make people healthier.
"This is an extraordinary honour that is both humbling and motivating for all of us at The Lancet,” Dr. Horton said.
In 1996, Dr. Horton decided The Lancet would publish the open access Global Burden of Disease (GBD) studies — the most comprehensive analysis of the health of the world’s 7.3 billion inhabitants and the largest networked collaboration in global health, with contributions from 3,500 researchers and data for 195 countries and 333 diseases and growing every year.
Examination of these data and trends in disease and death enables understanding of the changing health challenges facing people across the world. At the award ceremony, Dr. Horton said:
I was immensely excited by what we now talk about as the GBD because the GBD is nothing less than a human genome project for human health. It’s giving us the map, the spine, the skeleton to think about some of the most important predicaments that our species faces in this world. To me it informs everything that we do here at The Lancet.
Dr. Horton was presented with his award at a black-tie event at the historic Guildhall in the City of London. Guests including leading global health experts, including Dr. Christopher Murray, Sir Eldryd Parry, Dr. Jeremy Farrar, Baroness Julia Cumberlege, Dr. Gunhild Stordalen, Dr. Julio Frenk, Sarah Boseley , Dr. Anthony Costello and Prof. Alan Lopez.
Elsevier CEO Kumsal Bayazit congratulated him for being a “tireless advocate for the right to health, health equity, social justice and women’s rights.”
This year marks the sixth annual presentation of the Roux Prize, which is funded by philanthropist couple Dave and Barbara Roux and administered by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Richard’s advocacy for sustained improvements in global health has been inspiring to me and to many others at WHO. I respect him deeply as a colleague and friend, and applaud his selection as the winner of the Roux Prize.
IHME Director Dr. Murray also spoke at the event and in the Roux Prize video:
Richard has been an activist editor, relentlessly taking on issues beyond the traditional scope of ‘public health,’ including the accountability of the medical profession, as well as human rights. He has demonstrated an uncompromising commitment to advance health internationally, and his vison for a healthier, safer, and more just world has made Richard one of the world’s most sought-after population health speakers.
Previous winners of the Roux Prize include Cynthia Maung in 2018 for her work using health data to improve the lives of refugees, migrant workers and internally displaced people along the border of Burma (now Myanmar) and Thailand and Dr. Samba Show in 2017 for his work using health data to save children's lives through a comprehensive vaccination program in Mali.
Last month, Dr. Tedros presented Dr. Horton with a Health Leader Award at the 2019 World Health Assembly in Geneva for his commitment to advancing global health. Invited to address all 194 WHO member states at the Assembly, Dr. Horton called on them to declare a planetary health emergency, demand gender equality as women’s rights are also human rights, invest in safe surgery, and ensure that health is a governance issue.