South African health researcher among winners of $1 million Kuwaiti fund

21 Nov 2018, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria

Summary

The fund is designed to reward innovative and inspiring initiatives and research by individuals and organisations that address the challenges facing the African continent.

Salim Abdool Karim, Director, Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), has been announced as a joint winner in the $1 million Al Sumait Prize for African Development. The prize honours individuals or institutions who help to advance economic and social development, human resources development and infrastructure on the African continent.

The prize is administered annually by the Board of Trustees of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), in one of three fields – Food Security, Health and Education. The 2018 Al-Sumait Prize is for the health category. The other winners are Professor Sheila West, Vice Chair for Research Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and the Rakai Health Sciences Programme (RHSP), a non-profit independent research centre in Rakai, Uganda.

According to a statement released by the KFAS on Wednesday, half of the prize money will be awarded to Professor Abdool Karim, while the other half will be shared equally between the other winners – Prof. West and RHSP.

“Our goal with this prize is to promote positive change across Africa, and these newly announced laureates of the Al-Sumait Prize for African Development have been working tirelessly in their field of health to create a positive and sustainable difference across Africa and the world,” said Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister of Kuwait and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Al-Sumait Prize is an initiative of His Highness Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, and was launched in 2013 to honour late Dr Abdulrahman Al-Sumait, a Kuwaiti physician who dedicated his life to helping less fortunate individuals and communities in Africa and addressing the challenges of development on the continent. The fund is designed to reward innovative and inspiring initiatives and research by individuals and organisations that address the challenges facing the African continent.

Karim is also a professor at Columbia University and the Pro Vice-Chancellor – Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. He is jointly awarded the prize for his contributions in HIV treatment and prevention over the past three decades. He has published more than 350 papers in peer-reviewed medical journals. His efforts in research on prevention and treatment of AIDS patients have led to the decline of HIV/AIDS and mortality rates in Africa.

His findings on HIV-TB, according to the statement, are specifically mentioned in the treatment policies and guideline of many countries and are being implemented worldwide.

West is awarded the prize in recognition for her research work in Africa on ways to improve trichiasis surgery outcomes and eliminate blinding trachoma. She has been instrumental in the development of the World Health Organisation’s SAFE strategy for Trachoma prevention and control. SAFE stands for surgery for trichiasis, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement.

The third joint winner of the 2018 Al-Sumait Prize plays an important role in improving public health in Africa by fighting against HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted disease. Three decades ago, RHSP had discovered the first clinical symptoms of a new medical phenomenon called, ‘slim disease’, on the African continent.

According to the statement, the BOT of KFAS is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and its members include Bill Gates, Co-Chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr Kwaku Aning, Chairman of the Governing Board of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission; Abdulatif Alhamad, Director-General and Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.

Other members are Makhtar Diop, World Bank’s Vice President for Africa; and Tareq Al-Mutawa, Executive Member of Public Gathering Charity Committee.


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