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Jakarta, 11 December 2012 — Colleagues remember him as "a pioneer." For decades, they say, Dr. Firman Lubis dedicated himself to doing what was right to improve the health and welfare of Indonesians, particularly those who are poor, vulnerable, voiceless and marginalized. His example of leadership in civil society will be remembered by a new annual award, announced officials of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and Yayasan Kusuma Buana (YKB) at the first annual Firman Lubis Memorial Seminar, held at Le Meridien Hotel in Jakarta Tuesday, 11 December.

The newly-established Dr. Firman Lubis Memorial Award for Distinguished Service will recognize outstanding contributions of institutions and individuals to civil society in Indonesia. "This award will continue Pak Firman's legacy, inspiring many more to embody his courageous and principled commitment to improving the health and welfare of the people of Indonesia," said UNFPA Representative in Indonesia Jose Ferraris.

"Pak Firman was a leader in this country's public health community whom many looked up to, whether in government, NGOs, academia, or youth groups," said Ferraris. Through Yayasan Kusuma Buana (YKB), which he founded in 1980 and led until his death in September this year, Firman brought together a broad range of healthcare stakeholders—from doctors and nurses to pharmacies and midwives—to serve those in need.

Firman's inclusive, "outside-the-box" solutions created networks of unlikely collaborators across civil society, government, and the private sector, said retired UNFPA Representative Jay Parsons, who, while working for the Population Council early in his career, shared an office with Dr. Firman at BKKBN in the late 1970s. Over the years, Firman accumulated an unrivalled institutional memory and intimate knowledge of how policies and programmes in reproductive health developed over the past decades. "The advice that he offered was priceless and oftentimes pointed to the most practical ways of engaging different stakeholders," added Ferraris.

Causes in Firman's field of care, reproductive health and family planning, were sometimes sensitive, but "his leadership embodied the confidence of moral authority" and inspired courage in others, said Parsons, who continued to work closely with Dr. Firman for many years.

Six friends and colleagues shared their reflections on working with Dr. Firman in a session moderated by Ninuk Widyantoro of the Women's Health Foundation. Speakers included Minister of Health Nafsiah Mboi, who delivered her remarks by video; Untung Suseno Sutardjo, also of the Ministry of Health; Haryono Suyono, founder and chairman of Damandiri Foundation; Kartono Mohamad, former chair of the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI); historian Rusdi Husein; Usman Chatib Warsa, former rector of the University of Indonesia; and Jay Parsons.

The memorial seminar concluded with remarks on behalf of Dr. Firman's family by Setyawati Budiningsih Lubis, as well as testimonials his colleagues at UNFPA, among them Martha Santoso Ismail and Margaretha Sitanggang.

Tags: Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Population