2021 Charles Bronfman Prize awarded to Jessica Beckerman, Ari Johnson

2021 Charles Bronfman Prize awarded to Jessica Beckerman, Ari Johnson

Jessica Beckerman and Ari Johnson, co-founders of Muso, which provides community-based health care in Mali and Côte d'Ivoire, have been named the 2021 recipients of the Charles Bronfman Prize.

Established in 2004 by siblings Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman — along with their spouses, Andrew Hauptman and Claudine Blondin Bronfman — in honor of their father, Charles R. Bronfman, the prize, which includes a $100,000 cash award, recognizes an individual under the age of 50 whose humanitarian work, informed by Jewish values, has made a significant contribution to addressing a critical need. 

Beckerman and Johnson, a married couple who co-founded Muso in 2005 and serve as its chief medical officer and CEO, work with a team of more than five hundred people to improve access to health care and prevent deaths from treatable diseases. Employing what it calls a Proactive Care model, Muso deploys community health workers who proactively search for patients through door-to-door home visits and connect them with care; provides an integrated package of healthcare services in the home, including rapid diagnosis and treatment for the most common illnesses; and evacuates the sickest patients by off-road ambulance to rapid-access primary care clinics, where they receive care from nurses, physicians, and midwives. The organization also conducts research and assists the governments of Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, and other countries in implementing evidence-based community health strategies.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Muso is working with the government of Mali — as it did during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 — to create national systems for protecting patients and healthcare providers on the front lines, slow and eventually stop COVID-19 transmission, and bring oxygen treatment to hospitals across the country. 

"Delay in health care — in diagnosis, in care, in tracing — is a driver of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we at Muso design health systems to cure that delay that could be as applicable in the United States as they are in West Africa," said Johnson, who also is an associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco and treats COVID-19 patients at San Francisco General Hospital.

"The failures and delays in COVID response in so many parts of the world, especially the disparities, give us an opportunity to reimagine what health care should look like," added Beckerman.

"I am so pleased that the judges chose Jessica and Ari as this year's prize recipients," said Charles Bronfman. "Their compassionate, innovative approach to health care is saving lives. This community-based system should serve as a global model, especially as COVID-19 afflicts millions around the world and the inequities in healthcare systems grow more acute."

"Charles Bronfman Prize names Drs. Jessica Beckerman and Ari Johnson recipients of its 2021 award." Charles Bronfman Prize press release 01/12/2021. "2021: Jessica Beckerman MD and Ari Johnson MD." Charles Bronfman Prize webpage 01/12/2021.