The symposium was attended by three of the past four recipients of this award from the years 2008 (1st) and 2013 (2nd). Indeed, we relied heavily on the help of Dr. Miriam Were, who was one of the first recipients of this award, to get the cooperation of WHO-AFRO in organising this workshop.
Also, given the nature of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize and its emphasis on public health of Africa, I made a special request Dr Were to invite young people who work in this area.
One of the defining features of the Noguchi Africa Prize is the emphasis on both public health and epidemiology and in medical research relevant in the African continent,. Thus, past laureates include people like Dr. Were from Kenya and Dr. Coutinho from Uganda. These two in particular are wonderful role-models for aspiring young African people, and are held in high esteem. Another recipient of the award, Dr. Peter Piot, was unable to attend for personal reasons that are elaborated in the link to my address.
The venue could seat around 100 people, and was packed to the maximum with some people even standing. The energy in the air was palpable. My address was followed by a speech by a representative of the Health Minister of Kenya, a congratulatory speech by Mr. Shiozaki, the Japanese Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, and then by a representative of the WHO-AFRO Director.
We also showed a 6-minute video about the Noguchi Hideyo Africa Prize that was in English but simultaneously translated into French, with Japanese subtitles. This was followed by a keynote presentation by Dr. Were, and then a special Karate performance by the young people of the UZIMA Foundation created and led by Dr Were.
After a brief break, we had two panel discussions moderated by Dr. Greenwood (a laureate of 2008) and Dr. Coutinho (a laureate of 2013, both who infused the discussions with their passion for their people’s health as their major work, leading to a lively discussion.
The Workshop started at 8:30 in the morning, and began by one hour session with abut 20 young African hesalthcare leaders. At the end of engaging two panel debates, one each from the young health leaders wrapped up the talks by providing a concise overview. The abilities of these students shone through and wowed the audience.
The whole event was wrapped up by a speech by Ichiro Aizawa, Head of the Japan-Africa Parliamentary Representatives’ Association.
I was impressed by the evergreen enthusiasm and determination of the laureates that seemed to flow freely for the benefit of everyone. Perhaps this passion is what is most important character which leads to after many years, world-changing work.
More will follow in part 3.