Speech by Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO, to Kimmo Leppo, revarded with Citation for Lifetime Achievement in Health Promotion
Kimmo LeppoCitation for Lifetime Achievement in Health PromotionOn behalf of WHO/Europe and of the Europe Day Committee of the 8th GlobalConference in Health Promotion, it is my pleasure to close this day with arecognition to someone who is one of the founding fathers of the healthpromotion movement: to Dr Kimmo Leppo, former Director General of theHealth Department at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland.Kimmo Leppo graduated from the medical faculty of the University of Helsinki in1968. He also has had thorough studies in social sciences and postgraduatestudies social medicine. His doctoral dissertation was on contraception inFinland in the public health perspective. He holds a professors competence inmedical sociologyHaving worked in clinical practice, Kimmo Leppo early on took on a researchcareer in social medicine and demography, and was drawn to the Ministry intohealth policy and planning in early 1970s. He retired from the Ministry of SocialAffairs and Health from the post of Director-General of the Health Department.During his service at the Ministry, he held several key positions in Finnish healthplanning, administration and policy, including innumerable governmentcommittees, working groups and intergovernmental bodies.It almost seems that whenever something important was happening in healthpolicy, whether at national, regional or global level, Kimmo Leppo was there:• When the Strategy for primary health care and Health for All was drafted inthe 1970s, Kimmo Leppo was an executive board member of the WHO. Inthe early 1980s, he was responsible for the preliminary drafting of the
Finnish Health for All Strategy, while he also served as an advisor for thepreparations of the European HFA Strategy. He was then in charge of themonitoring and evaluation of the Finnish HFA Strategy in the 1990s, as wellas of its subsequent revision. In the late 1980s Dr Leppo also served as aconsultant to the WHO/EURO in health policies and planning, especiallyconsulting member states with their HFA policy development. In the firstInternational conference on health promotion in Ottawa, he chaired the Sub-plenary on Healthy Public Policies• When the world’s first truly comprehensive government Bill for tobaccolegislation was drafted in Finland in 1976, he was responsible for thedrafting. He was also a member of the WHO Expert advisory panel onsmoking in the 1980s, and when the FCTC process was initiated, he had beenvice chair of the executive board of the WHO instrumental in promoting theinitiative, and later chaired the intergovernmental working group on theframework convention on tobacco.• As regards health services, Kimmo Leppo has been in charge of the healthand social services in Finland as the Director General of health and socialservices, and in that capacity has directed numerous processes on norms,standards and best practices concerning medical services and products. Onthe regional level, he has, among others, been a member of the managementboard of the European medicines agency, as well as a member of severalHigh Level EU Committees and Groups. At the global level, he chaired theWHO expert advisory group on health systems development andinternational on the Forum for Policy-Makers and Senior Managers ofNational Health Systems in early 2000s.Dr Leppo has a unique combination of competencies and qualities:
• He is a top level policy-maker with the analytical skills and knowledge of aUniversity professor combined with an understanding of a grass root levelclinical physician.• He is both deeply informed about the science of medicine and the role ofhealth services, but also profoundly immersed in improving health throughpublic policies across sectors.• Kimmo Leppo is a man with a deeply rooted value base: he isuncompromising about his values of equity, social justice and human dignity.He has always been very committed in doing the best possible at any giventime, but is also realist in understanding what is possible at what moment,and patient to see incremental changes in policy making. He has a strategicmind, with a vision and a clear sense of direction. I have furthermore beentold that as a director, he was extremely steadfast in his trust and support tohis staff, and mindful for giving credit to the person doing the job, as well asalways eager to involve young professionals and steer their growth.Having retired, Kimmo Leppo has continued a professional career both as aninternational consultant, as well as author of scientific work on health policy.This Conference has profited from his knowledge in the form of the book onHealth in All Policies, of which he is the editor in chief.For the award, I now have the pleasure to give Kimmo an olive tree, selected bythe Europe Day Committee as a symbol of the evergreen nature of Kimmoscontribution to public health and health promotion, and in recognition of theconsummate professional who has never retired but remains an activeinspiration for us all.