YOKOHAMA, May 28 – Prof Miriam Were of Kenya and Brian Greenwood of Britain were awarded the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize here on Wednesday for their distinguished contribution in the fight against infectious and other diseases in Africa.
The prize was established to recognize outstanding achievements in the field of medical research and services after the name of Dr. Noguchi, a famous Japanese researcher who died 80 years ago in Ghana, where he lived and carried out research on yellow fever.
Were, born 1940 in Kenya, has dedicated her life in the past 40years to advancing the health and welfare of the people of Africa through a focus on the practicalities of delivering service at a local level.
The prize was in recognition for her outstanding work in community health.
Her community-based approach to health service has contributed to the reduction of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, the rise of infant vaccination rate, the improvement of public toilet facilities and the overcoming of longstanding taboos.
President Kibaki last week met with Prof Were at his Harambee House Office where he expressed the government’s appreciation for her contribution to the country’s health sector.
The President noted that during her tenure as the Chairperson of National Aids Control Council, the country recorded substantial reduction in HIV/AIDS infection rates adding that her leadership of the Council had spearheaded an aggressive sensitization campaign on dangers of the deadly the disease.
The government of Japan established the "Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize" in July 2006 in memory of Dr Hideyo Noguchi whose contribution to medical advancement and self-sacrifice in activities in Africa remain a model of medical professionalism.
The Japanese prize aims at honouring individuals and organizations with outstanding achievements in the field of medical research and medical services to combat infectious and other diseases in Africa and contributing to the health and welfare of the African people and all humankind.
Professor Brian Greenwood was honored for his bold and innovative work on malaria, a major killer in Africa that claims more than 1 million lives a year.
Professor Were was similarly honored for her contribution to patient-and-community-centered approaches to address HIV/AID and other public health issues.
Greenwood, born 1936 in Britain, has spent more than 30 years on site in Africa including 15 years as Director of the MRC Laboratories in Gambia where he pioneered a landmark research contributing to the understanding of the immunology, pathogenesis and epidemiology of malaria and other infectious diseases.
His research and transnational clinical studies have provided the scientific underpinning to a wide range of influential public health policies at national and international levels.
The awarding ceremony was held as part of the ongoing Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) held in Yokohama from May 28 to 30.
The three-day TICAD IV opened Wednesday in Yokohama with the participation of hundreds of delegates from African countries and development partners that include Asian countries, international agencies and civil society organizations.