Address by President Nelson Mandela on accepting the American Public Health Association Presidential Citation

14 October 1997

I am deeply honoured to receive this citation.

That is because it comes from an association of men and women who are dedicated to the public health and well-being of their nation; an organisation that also cares for the health of people across the world.

I would like to use this opportunity to express our appreciation to members of the American Public Health Association, as part of the international community of public health workers, for their solidarity with our struggle for freedom.

Your support was essential to our victory, which is also your victory. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

As we face our new challenges we are strengthened by the knowledge that we have your continuing support. Freedom for South and Southern Africa has brought the opportunity at last to address the basic neds of our people. It allows us not only to attend to immediate health needs but also to begin to eradicate the legacy of poverty and inequity that is the greatest threat to our public health.

Achieving these goals will take us many years. But we have made a start and we face the future with confidence. We do so because the people of South Africa have united to put the conflict of the past behind them and to work together for a better life for all, especially the poor.

It is this achievement of our whole nation, I do know, that you are celebrating by the honour you are awarding me; and I humbly accept it in their name.

May your award, and our acceptance of it, strengthen the continuing partnership of public health workers in South Africa and the United States, in Africa and across the globe, for health; social justice; human rights and peace.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation