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The Amir of the State of Kuwait has presented the 2018 Al-Sumait prize for African Development. Initiated in 2013 by Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah, the Al-Sumait Prize is designed to reward innovative and inspiring initiatives and research by individuals and organisations that address the challenges facing the African continent. The award recognises and honours individuals or institutions that help advance economic and social development, human resources development and infrastructure in Africa.

2018 Al Sumait Prize for African Development awarded

This year’s prize, which includes one million dollars, a gold medal and a shield, was awarded to two initiatives: AIDS and trachoma research. Professor Salim S. Abdool Karim, Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and CAPRISA Professor of Global Health at Columbia University were jointly awarded half a million dollars. The second half of the prize was shared equally by Professor Sheila K. West, Vice Chair for Research at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Rakai Health Sciences Programme, represented by Professor Maria Wawer and Professor David Serwada.

“I am deeply humbled and honoured by the award as it is recognition not just for me, but for the thousands of researchers in Africa and around the world making a difference to those most in need. Our work, however, is far from done, as nearly 5000 new HIV infections continue to occur around the world each and every day,” Prof. Karim said.

“We are very grateful for the recognition this award gives to our teams both in Uganda and at John Hopkins University for the impactful work we are doing to combat the HIV epidemic in Uganda,” Dr Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), which administers the prize, told the audience at the prize giving. He added that that this year’s laureates had been working tirelessly to improve life expectancy and quality of life for millions of people living on the continent of Africa and beyond, and their dedication and determination was truly inspiring.

“158 million people live in trachoma endemic areas and the impact of the blindness it causes is both socially and economically disastrous. This award will help us to build on the work we have done and raise awareness so families and communities don’t have to live under this threat in the future,” said Prof. West said after thanking the Amir and the Al-Sumait Prize Board of Trustees for the award.

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