Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize

Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize

The Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize (野口英世アフリカ賞 Noguchi Hideyo Afurika Shō?) honors men and women "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."[1] The prize, officially named "The Prize in Recognition of Outstanding Achievements in the Fields of Medical Research and Medical Services in Africa Awarded in Memory of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi," is managed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).[2]



The Japanese Government established the Noguchi Prize in July 2006 as a new international medical research and services award. Release of news about the planned prize was timed to mark the official visit to by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to Africa in May 2006. The announcement of this new international prize also marked the 80th anniversary of Dr. Noguchi’s death.[3] The Prize aims to honor individuals with outstanding achievements in combating various infectious diseases in Africa or in establishing innovative medical service systems.[4] As preliminary discussions about the award were disclosed, Koizumi explained that he hoped that many countries in the world would take an interest in this initiative.[5]

The awarding of the Noguchi Prize is planned to be a keynote event at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). TICAD is a policy forum which Japan initiated in 1993. Other co-organizers are the United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (OSSA), the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank. Over time, the TICAD meetings have evolved into a major global framework to facilitate the implementation of initiatives for promoting African development under the dual principle of African "ownership" and international "partnership".[6]

  • At the first conference (TICAD-I), African countries and their development partners determined to do their utmost for African stability and prosperity.[6]
  • At TICAD-II, African countries and their development partners agreed on the "Tokyo Agenda for Action" (TAA), the strategic and action oriented guideline, with poverty reduction in Africa and its integration into the global economy as two fundamental goals.[6]
  • TICAD-III brought together some 1,000 delegates, including 23 heads of state and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. African countries and their development partners reviewed the achievements of the ten year TICAD process, discussed the future direction it should take in light of the latest developments on the African continent and in the international arena, and declared the "TICAD Tenth Anniversary Declaration".[6]
  • TICAD-IV aimed to mobilizes knowledge and resources of the international community in the core areas of boosting economic growth, ensuring human security and addressing environment and climate change issues. TICAD IV is scheduled to conclude with the adoption of the "Yokohama Declaration", outlining guiding principles and approaches to African development among TICAD stakeholders, as well as the "Yokohama Action Plan" and the "Yokohama Follow-up Mechanism", laying out a road map for action-oriented initiatives with measurable targets.[6]

Hideyo Noguchi

Statue of Hideyo Noguchi in Ueno Park, in Tokyo.

Hideyo Noguchi was a prominent Japanese bacteriologist who discovered the agent of syphilis in 1911.[7] Noguchi's work would later attract the scrutiny of the committee evaluating nominations for the Nobel Prize in Medicine.[8] The Nobel Foundation archives have been only recently opened for public inspection; and what was once only speculation is now confirmed. In 1914, for example, Dr. Ikutaro Hirai of Kyoto nominated Noguchi for the Nobel Prize in Medicine because of his bacteriological and biological works.[9]

In 1918, Noguchi traveled extensively in Central America and South America to do research for a vaccine for yellow fever. He traveled to Africa to try to confirm his findings; and he wanted to test the hypothesis that yellow fever was caused by spirochaete bacteria instead of a virus. While working in Accra, Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana), he was himself struck down by the yellow fever virus.[10] His last words were reported to have been, "I don't understand."[11]

After his death, Noguchi's body was returned to the United States; but the Noguchi Prize is arguably poised to become a more meaningful memorial than his modest grave marker in New York City's Woodlawn Cemetery.[12]

Inaugural award in 2008

The first laureates of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize, like Noguchi himself, are both medical doctors with a career-long interest in epidemiology and public health. They are Dr. Brian Greenwood and Dr. Miriam Were.[1] For the honorees, the Prize represents both an acknowledgment of their past accomplishments and an investment in their prospective contributions in the years ahead.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda made the actual award presentation; and the Emperor and Empress were present at the 2008 ceremony along with a large number of African heads of state.[13]

The presentation ceremony and laureate lectures coincided with TICAD-IV, which was held in Yokohama in late May 2008.[14] This year's conference venue was moved from Tokyo to Yokohama as another way of honoring the man after whom the prize was named. In 1899, Dr. Noguchi worked at the Yokohama Port Quarantine Office as an assistant quarantine doctor.[15]

Prof. Greenwood, the Manson Professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), was honored in the Medical Research category; and his laureate lecture topic was "Malaria elimination – Is it possible?"[1]

Prof. Were, chairperson of Kenya's National AIDS Control Council (NACC), chairperson of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) and formerly Professor of Community Health at the University of Nairobi School of Medicine, was honored in the Medical Services category; and her laureate lecture was "Potential for Improvement in Africa's Health Through Evidence and Persistence in the Spirit of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi."[1]

With significantly large money prizes attending this award, the Noguchi Prize already rivals the major established scientific awards.[16] From the outset, the 2008 Noguchi Prizes -- consisting of a citation, a medal and an honorarium of 100 million yen (US$843,668) -- were only intended to be the first in a continuing series; and subsequent prizes are expected to be awarded every five years.[17] The prize has been made possible through a combination of government funding and private donations.[18]

List of laureates

The Japanese government has commemorated Dr. Noguchi's life by printing his portrait on Japanese 1000 yen banknotes since 2004;[19] and this new initiative intends to do more than honoring the man himself. The Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize is expected to draw attention to those whose own work mirrors what Dr. Noguchi strove to achieve.


  1. ^ a b c d Japan, Cabinet Office: Noguchi Prize, fact sheet.
  2. ^ Adisa, Banji. "Japan to promote Africa's growth at Tokyo confab," Nigeria Daily News. March 25, 2008.
  3. ^ Japan Science and Technology Agency: " Commemorative Lecture: The First Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize," Science Links Japan web site.
  4. ^ Rockefeller Foundation: Noguchi Prize, history
  5. ^ "Koizumi unveils Africa medical research award," Japan Times. July 27, 2006.
  6. ^ a b c d e Du Guodong. "Backgrounder: Tokyo Int'l Conference on African Development (TICAD)," China View (Xinhua). May 27, 2008.
  7. ^ Hess, Julius H. and A. Levinson. "Clinic of Drs. Julius H. Hess and A. Levinson; The Luetin Test," International Clinics: A Quarterly. Vol.3, No. 28 (1918), p. 89-95.
  8. ^ Japanese Government Internet TV: "Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize," streaming video 2007/04/26
  9. ^ Nobel Prize in Medicine: nomination, 1914.
  10. ^ National Diet Library: Noguchi bio and image
  11. ^ BBC/H2g2: Yellow Fever blurb.
  12. ^ " A Place for All Eternity In Their Adopted Land," New York Times. September 1, 1997.
  13. ^ "Mama Miriam receives the Hideyo Noguchi Prize," UZIMA Foundation News. May 29, 2008; "Japan awards Kenyan, Briton new Africa health prize" (Agence France Press). May 28, 2008.
  14. ^ Japan, Cabinet Office: Noguchi Prize, chronology
  15. ^ Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Museum: Noguchi, life events
  16. ^ Japan, Cabinet Office: Noguchi Prize, analysis
  17. ^ World Health Organization: Noguchi Prize, WHO/AFRO involved
  18. ^ "Noguchi Africa Prize short by 70% of fund target," Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo). March 30, 2008.
  19. ^ Bank of Japan: Valid Bank of Japan Notes, as of August 2004; Brook, James. "Japan Issues New Currency to Foil Forgers," New York Times. November 2, 2004
  20. ^ Japan, Cabinet Office: press release
  21. ^ Japan, Cabinet Office: press release.


See also

External links

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