Professor Miriam Were, awarded 2008 Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize

The 2008 Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for medical services has been awarded to GHWA board member Professor Miriam K. Were, whose efforts to bring basic medical services and health rights to women and children in the villages of East Africa have been a beacon of hope for millions of people in Africa and the world.

The Japanese Government recognized Dr. Were for over four decades of her dedicated service to communities. For the past 40 years, Professor Were has united communities to develop and implement innovative solutions to daily health problems. The most illustrious example of her community-based approach is her ongoing work to build public toilet facilities in local communities, improving hygiene and overcoming longstanding taboos. She also drastically raised the infant vaccination rate through a system of organizing children into small groups to visit local clinics.

As the Chairperson of Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council, Professor Were has provided strong leadership and orchestrated a balanced HIV/AIDS response agenda that has enabled Kenya to consistently register a reduction of HIV prevalence and AIDS-related mortality.

Through her work with African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), she has presided over the expansion of medical services to rural communities that has seen an increase in Kenya’s national health budget by three times between 2003 and 2007.

Professor Were is also the co-founder and director of the UZIMA foundation, where she has used her medical expertise and wisdom to encourage and promote positive behaviour among young people.

She has been a member of the GHWA Board since the Alliance's inception in 2006.

Professor Were was presented with the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize during the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) held in Yokohama, Japan from 28-30 May. Honoured with her was Dr Brian Greenwood of the United Kingdom, for his innovative work on Malaria.

The Japanese Government established the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize to award individuals with outstanding achievements in the field of medical research and health services. The prize aims to encourage the fight against diseases in Africa, thereby contributing to the health and welfare of people living in Africa and elsewhere.

"On behalf of GHWA, I'd like to sincerely congratulate Professor Were for her outstanding achievement and contribution to improving community health in Africa. Her dedication and commitment are an example to us all," said Dr Mubashar Sheikh, Executive Director of GHWA.

"GHWA also extends its appreciation and thanks to the Japanese Government for their recognition of Dr. Were's accomplishments and the creation of this award which acknowledges the importance of ground-breaking work in health," he said.