Pune, June 5 : The University of Massachusetts has conferred an honorary degree of 'Doctor of Science' on Cyrus Poonawalla, the founder of Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccines manufacturer, it was announced on Tuesday.
The honour was conferred on Poonawalla last Sunday acknowledging his commendable work in the field of vaccines with the 1.50 billion doses produced annually by SII, Pune, which are administered in 170 countries.
Named as one of the "Seven vaccine heroes of the world" by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Poonawalla's vacines have saved the lives of around 50 million globally over the past five decades.
"I strongly feel we need to treat the field of vaccination with the respect it deserves.
Its not just another field related to medical science but one of the most important ones. We need more precautionary measures than cures for betterment of human life and vaccination is one such measure," Poonawalla said on the occasion.
In the past, this degree has been awarded to then US President Barack Obama, in 2006, Anthony S.
Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in 2008 and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and the 2011 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.
Besides Poonawalla, physician-scientist Huda Y.
Zoghbi and Duke University nursing leader Marion E. Broome were conferred with the Honorary Degree of 'Doctor of Science Hon.' for their accomplishments as well.
SIIPL produces a range of vaccines including Polio, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, with an estimated 65 per cent of the children in the world receiving at least one of its vaccines.
Accredited by the World Health Organisation, SIIPL's vaccines are used in around 170 countries as part of their national immunization programmes thereby saving millions lives.