Former UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot wins prestigious Africa Health Prize
13 March 2013
The Japanese Government announced on 13 March that it was awarding the Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa prize to Dr Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, U.K. and former UNAIDS Executive Director and Dr Alex Godwin Coutinho, Executive Director of the Infectious Disease Institute, Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
The prize honours medical researchers and practitioners with outstanding achievements in the fields of medical research and medical services in Africa. Dr Piot received the prize for his pivotal research on viruses and diseases endemic to much of the African continent, including HIV and Ebola. The prize honours Dr Hideyo Noguchi who is remembered for his efforts to discover a vaccine for yellow fever in Africa.
While we have collectively achieved many successes, infectious diseases are far from under control, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. New pathogens will continue to emerge, and we must sustain local and global efforts for many years to come.
Dr Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and former UNAIDS Executive Director
The cabinet office of the Government of Japan said that the prize is a clear testimony to Japan’s efforts to be “at the forefront of global health issues with a particular focus on Africa. It is with great joy that we welcome these new laureates who embody the spirit of the Prize.”
Dr Piot was Executive Director of UNAIDS from its creation in 1995 until the end of 2008.Under his leadership the organization became the chief advocate for worldwide action against AIDS. The Government of Japan recognized Dr Piot’s role in bringing the AIDS epidemic to the forefront of global attention, raising international commitments to its funding and building scientifically grounded responses to its control and treatment.
“I am deeply honoured and grateful to have been considered for this award. Dr Noguchi holds a special place in the history of medical research and was in many ways a pioneer of what we now call global health,” said Dr Piot. “While we have collectively achieved many successes, infectious diseases are far from under control, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. New pathogens will continue to emerge, and we must sustain local and global efforts for many years to come.”
Dr Coutinho received the award for his pioneering efforts in expanding access to live-saving treatment for people living with HIV. He is known as a compassionate clinician who treated thousands of HIV patients at a time when there was a lot of stigma and fear.
Japan has been a supporter of the global AIDS response and an important partner of UNAIDS. The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe will formally award the Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa prize to Dr Piot and Dr Godwin on 1 June during the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development which will take place in Yokohama, Japan.