The years of hard work, self-sacrifice and selflessness paid off for Prof. Francis Omaswa, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) was awarded the honorary Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize in Japan yesterday, 30th August 2019 by the Japan Government.
The award that was presented by Shinzo Abe the Prime Minister of Japan honors individuals with outstanding achievements in the field of medical research and medical services to combat infectious and other diseases in Africa and comes with a prize of 1m cash price.
In his acceptance speech presented in Japan Prof. Omaswa said it is a great honor and pleasure for him to receive the 3rdHideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for Services rendered in Health. “When I received a phone call forming me of the decision on laureates of the Prize from the Government of Japan, I was shocked. I immediately asked my driver to take me to the nearest church to thank the Lord God for the news of the award. By God’s design, I found my wife also in the same church.”
“Sitting and conversing with you this evening at the banquet table is a singular privilege for me and my daughter Gloria as well as my other family members who are here in this room. I want thank Your Excellency Mr. Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minster of Japan and the entire government for this award. My heartfelt gratitude also goes to Dr. Kiyoshi KUROKAWA, Chairperson of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Committee.” Prof. Omaswa said.
He also expressed his gratitude to the President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who was represented at the ceremony by the Minister of Health Hon. Dr Jane Ruth Aceng whose decision to appoint him and support during his work in the position of Director General of Health Services in the government of Uganda provided the platform for him to undertake the national and international work that has been recognized by this award.
Dr. Hideyo Noguchi demonstrated in his life a spirit of global solidarity and humanity in risking his life by leaving the comforts of Japan and America to go to Africa to seek solutions to the menace of viral hemorrhagic fevers such as yellow fever that took his life. This is the spirit which today’s world needs more than ever.
Prof. Omaswa likened Dr. Hideyo Noguchi to his daughter Dr. Freda M Omaswa who passed away three years ago who spent time, from her base at the National Institutes of Health in the USA, testing vaccines for malaria in Bamako, Mali, West Africa for several years. In pursuit of this Hideyo Noguchi common good spirit and to advance his mission, a portion of the Prize award funds will be committed to a public cause in memory of Dr. Freda M Omaswa.
Dr. John Craven, Francis Omaswas teacher at Medical School in Makerere congratulated him, “Dear Francis, this is wonderful news and so well-deserved. I’m humbled that you acknowledge the friendly support I was able to give at the time that you needed some and I want to emphasize that our friendship was just that - I was not at that time, 50 years ago, selecting ‘nation-builders’ of the future. I liked you, your serious approach to the future, I could see that you, with Catherine alongside you had great potential and I valued the friendship that grew between us. The ‘support’ I gave you was that of a friend, and your achievements from that date are due to your own vision, ambition and hard work. Of all your achievements I put amongst the highest, the development of Uganda’s Heart Institute, from the outset making it autonomous and free from the troubles of Mulago, eschewing the worst of private practice, and training successors to yourself.”
Dr. Crispus Kiyonga was the Minister of Health when Francis Omaswa was appointed Director General of Health Services, “I was very much impressed with the level of dedication you paid to work while at the ministry of health both as Director General of Health Services but even earlier. I therefore take this opportunity to congratulate you on this well-deserved recognition by the international community.”
The Minister of Health for Uganda, Hon. Dr Jane Ruth Aceng says, “Congratulations Prof. Omaswa upon receiving the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Award at TICAD7. As you famously said “health is made at home and only repaired at the health facility. You have immensely contributed to the health sector. We are proud of you.”
Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, a Professor of Public Health at the George Washington University in the USA who worked closely with Francis Omaswa to run the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI), said; “I was very happy to learn that your work has been recognized and celebrated by the award of the Noguchi Africa Prize from the Japanese government. Bravo! I hope it brings you joy and gratification that your long years of contribution to human wellbeing richly deserve. From up-country surgeon to Geneva diplomat, you have carried yourself and your causes with strong conviction and an uninflated sense of self. I was always impressed with the dignity and simplicity that you brought to the work that we did together.”