Presentation of UNESCO Equatorial Guinea Prize for Life Sciences

The Head of State, H. E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has overseen the presentation of the UNESCO Equatorial Guinea Prize in Life Sciences for the 2020 edition. In that way, our country has once again positioned itself at the vanguard of science on the African continent, financing and supporting scientists and scientific organisations working to make progress in life sciences. The aim of the prize is to promote cooperation between researchers, and strengthen the networks of centres of excellence, as the main challenges in this health discipline.

On 10th February the presentation ceremony took place for the fifth edition of the UNESCO Equatorial Guinea Prize for Life Sciences, in the Nelson Mandela great hall at the headquarters of the African Union, in Addis Abeba (Ethiopia).

The President of the Republic, Head of State and of the Government, H. E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, oversaw the ceremony, together with the Presidents of Djibouti and Mali, Their Excellencies Ismael Omar Guelleh and Ibrahim Boubakar Keita, respectively. UNESCO was represented by its Director General, Audrey Azoulay, and the Equatoguinean, Agapito Mba Mokuy, President of the Executive Council of the organisation.

In previous editions of the prize, nine figures and institutions from the sector have already awarded the prize. The last edition took place in the city of Sipopo, on 30th March 2019.

In his speech during the ceremony, the President of the Republic presented the idea of continuing with the project of this prize before the African Union General Assembly. H. E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo stressed that the need to support scientists is the aim of the prize, with the ultimate aim of improving the lives of human beings. Furthermore, he mentioned the adversities affecting the African continent, which is susceptible to suffering famine and epidemics. The President also made it clear that our country would remain at the side of UNESCO in order to continue to fight illnesses and to achieve substantial improvements to human lif3e.

The scientists awarded the prize in this year’s edition were Cato T. Laurencin, professor from the University of Connecticut (United States) and biomedical engineer and orthopaedic surgeon from the Institute of Regenerative Engineering. The UNESCO Scientific Committee granted the distinction for his work applied to the development of stem cells and the system of administration for pharmaceuticals which has benefited over a million people throughout the world.

Another of the winners was the Irishman, Kevin McGuigan, surgeon researcher from the Royal College of Surgery. He carries out research into the development and application of solar disinfectants, which allow illnesses transmitted via water to be combated.

For her part, the scientist Tu Youyou, from the Chinese Academy for Medical Science and winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine 2015, was the deserved winner of this prize for creating a totally new antimalarial drug, artemisinin, with which she treated various patients in China in the 1980s.

The three winners received a certificate of acknowledgement, the sculpture Elat Moyong by the artist Leandro Mbomio Nsue, and the sum of 350 thousand American dollars (up from 300 thousand dollars from previous editions, confirming the desire to sponsor the award by the Head of State, in consensus with UNESCO).

In her speech, Audrey Azoulay underlined the importance of the prize and the commitment of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, and recalled the words of Nelson Mandela: “Life in the service of others makes us better people”.

A group photo brought the ceremony to a close, which had taken place in parallel with the last day of the Thirty third Summit of African Union Heads of State and Governments.

Source: Equatorial Guinea Press and Information Office

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