Ghanaian doctor wins globally recognised award for his work on river blindness

Professor Daniel Adjei Boakye

Professor Daniel Adjei Boakye is one of five winners selected to win a Falcon Award for Disease Elimination; he will receive up to USD200,000 and technical support from GLIDE (www.GLIDEae.org)to drive the elimination of river blindness in Ghana; the remaining four winners selected are from Pakistan, Philippines and Yemen.

Professor Daniel Adjei Boakye, a doctor who has devised a project to map out how river blindness is transmitted between villages in the Oti region has won a Falcon Award for Disease Elimination. The five winners were announced yesterday by the Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) during a Universal Health Coverage Day event at EXPO 2020 Dubai.

Professor Boakye will carry out a series of targeted field studies in the Oti Region to refine the multi-village model for preventing river blindness and identify the best treatment strategies for the disease.

Results from the study will also help in redefining transmission zones for other neglected tropical diseases programmes, ensuring these zones are targeted with specific interventions to accelerate the elimination of diseases. 

Professor Boakye beat 220 applicants across 44 countries to become the first African winner of the Falcon Awards. He is currently a Senior Technical Advisor at the END Fund, based at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.

Commenting on his selection, Professor Boakye, said: “I am delighted to have been selected as a winner of The Falcon Awards. Understanding issues around transmission zones and cross-border challenges is critical to the elimination of river blindness transmission in Africa. This partnership with GLIDE will create the impetus needed to generate data for models which provide greater clarity in resolving the challenges around river blindness elimination.”

Launched in April this year by GLIDE, the Falcon Awards aim to discover and implement innovative approaches to disease elimination which focus on eliminating one or more of GLIDE’s four focus diseases: malaria, polio, lymphatic filariasis and river blindness.

The winners were selected by a jury of global health experts including Professor Maha Taysir Barakat, Board Chair of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria; Dr Sarthak Das, Chief Executive Officer of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance; Dr Tunji Funsho, Chair of Rotary’s National PolioPlus Committee; and Dr Katey Owen, Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Simon Bland, Chief Executive Officer of GLIDE, said: Innovation is vital if we want to eliminate ancient diseases of poverty. The quality of applications we received from individuals and organisations based in disease-endemic countries, is testament to the will to consign these diseases to the history books. We just need to act on it. We are immensely grateful to our jury, who took time out of their demanding day jobs to select five winners from our 10 talented finalists. Above all, we look forward to working with the winners over the coming year, bringing their innovative disease elimination strategies to life.”

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