Report by Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chairperson of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Selection Committee

Your Majesty the Emperor, Your Majesty the Empress, Leaders of the African states and international organizations attending TICAD, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Committee, I have the pleasure of reporting to you about the selection process and the achievements of the laureates.

Let me begin with the selection process.

We invited nominations for both categories from around the globe including all the African countries. We obtained about 100 nominations by the summer of 2007. Last autumn, the selection process started in two committees. One was the Medical Research Sub-Committee composed of 24 international juries chaired by Dr. Toyoshima, Special Advisor to Research Institute of Physical and Chemical Research or RIKEN. The other was the Medical Services Sub-Committee composed of 12 international juries chaired by Professor Makgoba of KwaZulu Natal University. They reduced the number of candidates to three in each category by late February this year, when the main selection committee chaired by myself met for a final decision. The main committee unanimously selected Professor Brian Greenwood of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Professor Miriam Were of the UZIMA Foundation, and recommended them to Prime Minister Fukuda. This recommendation was duly approved in March.

Now I would like to turn to the achievements of the laureates.

Professor Brian Greenwood has spent more than 30 years on site in Africa pioneering landmark research to deepen our understandings of the immunology, epidemiology and many other aspects of malaria, a major killer in Africa. His malaria research includes, among others, the demonstration of the effectiveness of insecticide-treated bed nets for control of malaria which is now the cornerstone of malaria interventions, as well as primary studies on artemisinin-based combination therapies, which is now widely adapted as first-line treatment for malaria. His research, conducted with simple but sophisticated methods and based on robust field trials, has provided the scientific underpinning to a wide range of public health policies implemented in many African countries.

Another important aspect of Professor Greenwood’s achievements is his reinvention of tropical medicine into a multi-disciplinary science based on a genuine understanding of the complex African eco-system and real-life challenges unique to Africa, combining various studies, such as laboratory and clinical research, preventive and curative medicine, epidemiology, anthropology, and behavioral science.

Furthermore, Professor Greenwood has made training and supporting of young African scientists a central objective in his research in Africa. A generation of students, doctors, and clinicians inspired under Professor Greenwood’s mentorship has immensely contributed the increase in stature of medical research in Africa within the scientific community.
Professor Miriam Were, for the past 40 years, has dedicated her life to advancing the health and welfare of the people of Africa, focusing on the practicalities of delivering service in the communities. She has united communities to develop and implement relevant solutions to local public needs. Through such systematic approach she aimed at raising people’s awareness about hygiene.

Professor Were has greatly contributed to the on-going battle against HIV/AIDS, which has seriously affected the Kenyan society. She directly engaged with people who have high risk of infection and encouraged them to open their mind and speak up. This bold approach led to the reduction of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. Through her strong leadership as Chairperson of the National AIDS Control Council, Kenya has consistently registered a reduction of HIV prevalence and AIDS-related mortality.
As Chairperson of Africa’s largest health NGO, the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), Professor Were orchestrated the expansion of medical services to rural communities. As co-founder and director of the UZIMA Foundation, she encouraged and promoted positive behavior amongst youth, realizing for example a significant drop in drug addiction among UZIMA youth from over 80% to below 10% within 6 months which contributed to significant improvement of their health.

On behalf of the entire selection body of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize, I wish to express my heartfelt congratulations to the two laureates.