BALTIMORE (November 4, 2017) – The third annual Kyelem Prize was awarded on November 4, 2017 to Dr. Mwele Ntuli Malecela and Professor David Hurst Molyneux at the annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases, or COR-NTD. The award – given jointly to the two global health leaders – recognized their proven commitment to convening key contributors in the fight against neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, as well as their personal contributions to this fight.
“The individuals together represent an element essential to the success of the neglected tropical disease community – and that is the tight linkage between program implementers and academic researchers,” said Eric Ottesen, director of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center, which serves as COR-NTD Secretariat. “In addition to that intangible element, the outstanding individual contributions of Drs. Malecela and Molyneux exemplify the very special qualities of the late Dr. Kyelem’s – competence, effectiveness, collegiality, sincerity, determination and unquenchable optimism.”
Dr. Malecela is the first Director in the World Health Organization’s Office of the Regional Director for Africa. In addition, she was the first woman and first African appointed as Vice President of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes, as well as the first female Director General of Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research. Prior to holding that post, she was the first woman to direct her country’s efforts to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), a parasitic infection that can lead to disability and disfigurement.
“Mwele has contributed to NTDs and research immeasurably, and this award is a great thank you from the community for her services as she has now transitioned to the World Health Organization,” said Thoko Elphick-Pooley, director of the Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center in London.
Dr. Molyneux is Emeritus Professor and Senior Professorial Fellow at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, where he leads research efforts on neglected tropical diseases. Renowned as a global health expert, Dr. Molyneux includes among his accomplishments the training of Dr. Domnique Kyelem for whom the award is named. Under Dr. Molyneux’s supervision, Dr. Kyelem pioneered the mass drug administration approach to eliminating lymphatic filariasis in his home country of Burkina Faso.
“David’s commitment across the spectrum of NTDs and his commitment throughout his career to the improvement of health of the poorest communities are outstandingly worthy of the Kyelem Award,” said Yao Sodahlon, director of the Mectizan Donation Program. “It is also fitting that the award is associated with Dominique, someone for whom he had great fondness and admiration.”
About the Kyelem prize: The Kyelem Prize is given annually in his honor at the COR-NTD meeting. The inaugural award went to Dr. Julie Jacobson of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2015. In 2016, the Kyelem Prize was given posthumously to Dr. Vasanthapuram Kumaraswami of the Indian Council of Medical Research. After beginning his career as a district medical officer in Burkina Faso, Dr. Dominique Kyelem earned his PhD at Liverpool School of Medicine. He then became a program manager for lymphatic filiariasis, and served as director of programs in the Lymphatic Filariasis Support Center (now the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center) at The Task Force for Global Health until his death in 2013. In addition to his professional legacy – which includes being among the first to pilot mass drug administration for lymphatic filariasis – he is remembered for his unyielding positivity.
About the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases: The Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) is a group of researchers, program implementers and their supporters with the shared goal of optimizing NTD control and elimination. Supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development to the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center at the Task Force for Global Health – which serves as the Coalition Secretariat – the aim of COR-NTD is to create new synergies within the operational research community for NTDs and align that research with the program needs. Learn more at http://www.ntdsupport.org/cor-ntd.
About The Task Force for Global Health: The Task Force for Global Health works to reduce the global burden of disease and build public health systems that serve all people. Founded in 1984 by global health pioneer Dr. Willliam Foege, The Task Force consists of eight programs focused on neglected tropical diseases, vaccines, and health systems strengthening. It is affiliated with Emory University, headquartered in Decatur, GA, and has regional offices in Guatemala and Ethiopia. The Task Force received the 2016 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize for its extraordinary contributions to alleviating human suffering. Learn more at http://www.taskforce.org.
Photo: Mwele Malecela and David Molyneux with the 2017 Kyelem Prize (ROBERT PRENDERGAST/LSTM)