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First published Wednesday 10 July 2019.

The impact of Professor Lehmann’s work in PNG over the past 30 years is impossible to measure, according to Dr Tom Snelling, Director of the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases.

“We know pneumonia is responsible for more than one million childhood deaths around the world each year, so Professor Lehmann’s work preventing pneumonia ensures many thousands of kids make it through their vulnerable early years,” Dr Snelling said.

“We are very proud to announce the Deborah Lehmann Research Award in recognition of Professor Lehmann’s dedicated research in PNG, and we look forward to seeing young researchers continuing her legacy by providing better prevention and treatment solutions for children in this region.”

The inaugural recipient of the $30,000 annual award, Celestine Aho, was formally announced in March 2019. Ms Aho will investigate the true burden of otitis media and the cause of these infections among children living in the Eastern Highlands of PNG.

Ms Aho’s passion for research around otitis media stems from her little brother’s hearing loss and learning difficulties after recurring ear infections as a baby, and she is now determined to highlight the importance of ear health.

“My family knew little about the effects of otitis media on hearing as it was considered a normal part of growing up, and we didn’t have education around ear health issues or awareness of audiology support services,” Ms Aho said.

“As part of my research, I hope to bring emphasis on the awareness of otitis media in the community and in primary health care.”