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Global health award for Northumbria doctor Richard

Monday, 17 August, 2020
Global health award for Northumbria doctor Richard

A world-leading doctor has received a prestigious international award in recognition of his extensive work to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease in the North East and globally.

Prof Richard Walker, a consultant geriatrician at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and clinical lead for its Parkinson’s disease service, is the latest recipient of the World Parkinson’s Program Dr Rana International Parkinson’s Community Service Award.

The annual award honours the dedication and leadership of outstanding individuals world-wide for their contribution towards improving the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s disease. Prof Walker, an honorary professor of ageing and international health at Newcastle University, is the first recipient from the North East and first person from the UK to receive the award in five years.

He has also pioneered health research into Parkinson’s disease in sub-Saharan Africa and been instrumental in Northumbria Healthcare’s ground-breaking international partnership in Tanzania.

Prof Walker, who lives in Northumberland, said: “I am incredibly delighted and humbled to receive this prestigious award which recognises my global contribution to Parkinson’s disease, as well as work locally, regionally and nationally over the last 25 years.

“Parkinson’s can be a debilitating disease however no matter where a patient is – be that here in the North East or in sub-Saharan Africa – my aim is always for them to have the highest quality of life possible.

“Whilst there have been great strides in research globally throughout my career, there remains much work to do to ensure that people globally are diagnosed and have access to the support and medication they need. On countless occasions I have seen first-hand how life-changing that can be.

“Throughout my career I have been fortunate enough to work with some excellent people and I look forward to pushing the research boundaries yet further and helping to inspire the next generation of clinicians, who, like me, are dedicated to improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease.”

Prof Walker holds a number of high-profile roles in Parkinson’s disease and has led a series of research studies in the UK and in sub-Saharan Africa. This year as a result of his expertise in the field, he was invited by the World Health Organisation to a workshop to address global policy, implementation considerations and the research agenda for Parkinson’s disease in developing countries.

In 1999, Prof Walker helped set up, and is the lead clinician for, Northumbria Healthcare’s international partnership which has seen the trust work with colleagues at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in northern Tanzania to transform healthcare in the area.

Funded by the trust’s Bright charity, the trust’s volunteer teams have provided training and support to staff there which has vastly improved patients’ experiences.

Brenda Longstaff, head of Northumbria Healthcare’s Bright charity, said: “I am extremely proud that Prof Walker has been given this award and is now in such esteemed company. It is well-deserved recognition for his work and the impact it has had at a global level to improve health outcomes of people with Parkinson’s disease.

“His knowledge and expertise have been invaluable as we have developed our partnership in Tanzania, over more than 20 years. We are all delighted for him.”

For more information about the trust’s work in Tanzania, visit here.