In recognition of her considerable achievements and contributions in the field of occupational and environmental health, Dr. Rima Habib, Chair of the Environmental Health Department in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) in the American University of Beirut (AUB), received the “2017 International Health and Safety Award" from the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) section of the American Public Health Association (APHA), while she was also elected as a Fellow of the renowned Collegium Ramazzini, an independent, international academy founded in 1982 by Irving J. Selikoff, Cesare Maltoni and other eminent scientists.
The “International Health and Safety Award" recognizes individuals with outstanding achievement in the field of occupational health and safety outside the United States. “Dr. Rima Habib exemplifies the best of public health and is most deserving of the OHS Section's International Award", read an OHS statement on 7 November 2017, praising Dr. Habib in the field of Public Health. “Over her career, she has challenged colleagues, government officials, and NGOs to recognize and pursue social justice approaches to environmental and occupational research and public health practice", continues the statement.
“I want to thank AUB and FHS faculty and staff for their support, my students for inspiring me, and my team and colleagues for their exceptional dedication and professionalism", stated Dr. Habib. “I would also like to thank the APHA's OHS for this very special award that means a lot to me on both the professional and personal level", she added. “Public health is not a simple career, or a set of academic and research activities. It is about saving lives, and improving conditions," she continued. “I am humbled to know that peers see that my research has impacted people's lives positively. This is the main source of motivation for me, and it is overwhelming to know that I share this with many distinguished colleagues worldwide".
On Wednesday November 8, Dr. Habib was informed that she was also elected as a Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini, which is comprised of 180 internationally renowned experts in the fields of occupational and environmental health. The mission of the Collegium Ramazzini is to advance the study of occupational and environmental health issues and to be a bridge between the world of scientific discovery and the social and political centers which must act on the discoveries of science to protect public health. “I'm truly honored to be part of this Collegium and I embrace the responsibility that comes with this new challenge", commented Dr. Habib.
At a time where nationalism and the vilification of refugees continues to intensify, it is heartening to see Dr. Habib's work on vulnerable and marginalized populations, including refugees, being internationally recognized, and that AUB homegrown research is contributing to broader regional and global debates on the links between development policies, geopolitics, and health, commented FHS Dean Iman Nuwayhid.
In her work, Dr. Habib focuses on health disparities for marginalized workers and unrecognized labor in Lebanon and the Arab region, while she also investigated questions related to the work environment and gender. In this framework, the FHS is delighted and proud to see that the scientific world now recognizes Dr. Habib as one of the pioneers in exploring women's work in the household using an occupational and environmental health lens. In this particular field, Dr. Habib developed innovative approaches for policy makers to recognize women's domestic labor and its impact on individual and community health. Furthermore, Dr. Habib has done extensive research on migrant agricultural workers, pursuing new lines of inquiry about gender in farm workers populations. Her research in this field has provoked new advocacy on behalf of farm workers and agricultural communities in Lebanon and the region including the founding of a regional Agriculture, Environment, and Health Network.