Two doctors, Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum, and Dr. Francis Gervase Omaswa, have been named as this year’s recipients of the Third Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.
Dr. Omaswa has been working in Uganda and he is the Executive Director of African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST). Dr. Muyembe-Tamfum is the General Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) in Democratic Republic of Congo, and he is Professor of Medical Microbiology/ Virology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kinshasa.
Dr. Muyembe-Tamfum received the award under the medical research category “for his research to confront Ebola and other deadly viruses and efforts to train legions of disease-fighters”. Dr. Omaswa was awarded under the medical services category, and he received the award for “his dedication to addressing the global health workforce crisis including education, training, retention and migration of healthcare workers and for building pro-people health and medical systems not only across Africa, but worldwide”.
The award established by the Japanese government honours people and organisations dedicated to research and medical advances that fight disease in Africa.
The honour was conferred at the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Ceremony held on the 30th of August 2019, in Yokohama, Japan, on the margins of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7).
The Prize aims to honour individuals or organisations with outstanding achievements in the fields of medical research and medical services to combat infectious and other diseases in Africa, thus contributing to the health and welfare of the African people and of all humankind.
My warmest congratulations to Dr Jean-Jacques Muyembe (DRC)) and Dr Francis Gervase Omaswa (Uganda) for being awarded the 3rd Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for their respective contributions to medical research in fighting Ebola and medical services to strengthen health systems.
— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) August 31, 2019
Message from Dr. Muyembe-Tamfum
Commenting on the award Dr. Muyembe-Tamfum, was quoted saying: “The news that I was the winner of the Hideyo Noguchi Award for 2019, had reached me when I was on the ground in Butembo as part of the response against Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), which is hitting Congolese provinces of North Kivu and Ituri since August 2018”.
“Two contradictory feelings had immediately invaded my person: my sadness about this deadly epidemic that has lasted for seven months and my great joy to receive the prestigious Hideyo Noguchi Prize that I accept with all my heart, with a deep gratitude to the selection committee which has chosen my humble person as a laureate. I am very proud of it. This prize is the culmination of my 50-years of scientific career in the DRC, often in a very difficult environment.
“This award is fruitful and a strong message that will grow medical research not only in my country, the DRC, but also in all African countries. That all the African, European, and Japanese scientific institutions that have collaborated with me, find here the expression of my unfailing friendship”.
Message from Dr. Omaswa
Speaking on the award Dr. Omaswa said: “I am delighted and humbled. I thank the Government of Japan, Government and People of Uganda, my wife and family, friends and colleagues for the support and partnership over the years”.
“I call upon all Ugandan, African and people everywhere to serve willingly, diligently and selflessly knowing that the world is always watching us,” he said.
In a statement released prior to the announcement, the African Union lauded the decision by the Government of Japan to honour the two African doctors.
The AU said the award aligns with its Agenda 2063, “Aspiration 1” which: “seeks “a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development”. Among the Aspirations’ goals is the quest to have a healthy and well-nourished citizens and to expand access to quality health care services, particularly for women and girls”.
The Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize is composed of a citation, a medal and an honorarium of 100 million yen (approximately 1 million US dollars) for each laureate. The honorarium is disbursed from the Government of Japan.
The Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize was established as a Cabinet Decision of the Government of Japan in July 28, 2006. The Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize was held in June 2013 on the occasion of TICAD V, in Japan.
The Prize is awarded every five years and the second award was presented in June 2013. The first award was presented in 2008.
List of past laureates
Medical Research Category
2013 Peter Piot (Belgium)
2008 Brian Greenwood (UK).
Medical Services Category
2013 Alex Coutinho (Uganda)
2008 Miriam Were (Kenya).