15 November 2021

Consultant Paediatrician based within the Trust's Newham Specialist Children & Young Peoples' Services (SCYPS), Associate Professor Michelle Heys, is part of a team that have just won a prestigious award for public health.

The award recognises and highlights the work done to support infant feeding within South Asian communities in East London, a programme led by Professor Monica Lakhanpaul and Dr Logan Manikam, based within University College London’s (UCL) Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care.

The annual Royal Society for Public Health Health and Wellbeing Awards celebrate the best practice and achievements of communities, charities and businesses that protect and improve public’s health. 

The UCL led team, which includes Associate Professor Michelle Heys, won the Health at Every Age Award category for their Nurture Early for Optimal Nutrition (NEON) programme.

The NEON programme aims to optimise infant feeding, care, and dental hygiene practices among children under 2 years old, within communities of South Asian origin in East London, shifting the power to the community to better support mothers and carers. 

It is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), and supported by NIHR ARC North Thames, who submitted the nomination.

Describing her role in the programme, Associate Professor Heys said:

"Part of my research is to accelerate global innovation of interventions or methodology across countries – and this particular programme is an excellent example of an intervention developed initially in low-income countries being adapted and delivered in a high-income country setting.

“I have been part of the NEON team since the start of the project initially as a scientific advisor and in recent years as a co-investigator.

“I am delighted to play a part in the NEON programme and work with a team of colleagues who are working hard to improve the health of children in East London.”

Commenting on the win for the NEON programme at the RSPH Awards, Dr. Joanne Beckmann, SCYPS Consultant Community Paediatrician said:

"Congratulations to everyone who has been involved in making the NEON programme a success, and special congratulations to Associate Professor Heys, who I am proud to work alongside in the SCYPS Health team, where her expertise is focused on children with complex disabilities.

"Everyone within Newham SCYPS is delighted and grateful for the unique talents Associate Professor Heys contributes to our work here - this is a very much deserved award."

Commenting on the team’s recognition, co-leader of the NEON Programme Professor Monica Lakhanpaul said:

 “The NEON programme was developed with the community, for the community, ensuring that it was tailored to their needs, and that the voices of mothers and carers were at the heart of this work. Gaining national recognition for a project that is truly community-led demonstrates the growing acknowledgement that inclusion and co-production are crucial for improving the health and wellbeing of the public.”