Decatur, Georgia— October 5, 2022 — Today, at the annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center announced Dr. Uche Veronica Amazigo as winner of the 2022 Kyelem Prize. The Kyelem Prize, given annually in honor of Dr. Dominique Kyelem, recognizes people in the neglected tropical disease (NTD) field who have been particularly effective in bringing together those who implement NTD control and elimination. Dr. Kyelem was known not only for his career achievements, but also for his positive personal attributes that are among the characteristics reviewed by the selection committee.
“To many with us today, Dr. Amazigo is already a friend and mentor. [She] has a lot of talent, a lot of empathy and a lot of dedication. . . [in addition to] her extraordinary impact on communities with onchocerciasis and with profound ripple effects on both health delivery systems and on primary health care more broadly!” said Eric Ottesen, former director and special advisor to the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center.
Dr. Amazigo is a leading figure in the introduction and application of community-directed treatment for the control of neglected tropical diseases. She developed a model that made it possible for community members to play a role in distributing medicine to affected populations. Dr. Amazigo has been instrumental in the success of the control of Onchocerciasis (river blindness) in strengthening community health systems in 500,000 communities across 19 countries covered by the African Program on Onchocerciasis (APOC) of the World Health Organization, especially while she was Director of the Program from 2005-2011. She received Ph.D. in Biology and Medical Parasitology from the University of Vienna in Austria, a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Parasitology from the Bernhard-Nacht Institute of Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, Germany, and a Fellowship in International Health from Harvard School of Public Health, U.S.A.
"Dr. Dominique Kyelem sacrificed his life touching lives of hundreds of the most vulnerable and poor people. I am honoured and proud to be a recipient of this award which commemorates his achievements and positive attributes," said Dr. Amazigo. "The Kyelem award is an encouragement to continue working for the elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and mentor young scientists in research on NTDs."
This year, nominations for the Kyelem Prize were solicited from the more than 1,600 individuals receiving invitations to the COR-NTD meeting. In total, 14 different individuals were nominated, then reviewed independently by a panel of global health experts, including representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. These individuals then voted by secret ballot to choose this year’s Kyelem Prize awardee.
Past awardees include Dr. Julie Jacobson (2015), Dr. Vasanthapuram Kumaraswami (2016), Professor David Molyneux (2017), Dr. Mwele Malecela (2017), Professor Alan Fenwick (2018) Professor John Owusu Gyapong (2019), Dr. Massitan Dembélé (2020) and Dr. Yao Sodahlon (2020), and Dr. David Addiss (2021).
The Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) is a forum for researchers, program implementers and their supporters with the shared goal of optimizing NTD control and elimination globally. Supported by grants principally from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.K. aid by the U.K. Government, the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center at the Task Force for Global Health serves as the Coalition Secretariat.