A medical research and development organisation, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), which was co-founded by Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has won this year’s Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.
The award, the most prestigious in Spain has been running for 43 years and will be presented on October 20 in Oviedo, Spain.
It recognises distinguished individuals or organisations in the fields of arts, social sciences, communication and humanity, concord, international cooperation, scientific and technical research, sport, and literature
Winners in other categories in 2023 include Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, American actress Meryl Streep and Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.
Each Princess of Asturias Award recipient is presented with a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolising the award, a diploma, an insignia, and a cash prize of 50,000 euros (approximately $53,500).
“It is a great honour and privilege to receive this prestigious award, especially as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. We gratefully accept it on behalf of all the people who work with DNDi across the world to ensure that the best scientific research is available to the most neglected patients,’ said Dr Monique Wasunna, DNDi Africa Ambassador, who will participate in the award ceremony in Oviedo on Friday 20 October.
‘We also accept this award on behalf of the millions of neglected patients, and we commit to continue our efforts in driving medical research for neglected diseases.’
Both DNDi and Eliud Kipchoge will be awarded in a ceremony attended by the King and Queen of Spain, Reina Sofía, and Princesses Leonor and Sofía.
The award recognizes DNDi’s accomplishments in delivering new, safe, effective, affordable, and accessible treatments for some of the world’s most neglected diseases.
Previous laureates in the International Cooperation category include the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Red Cross, Amref Health Africa, and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.
DNDi was founded in 2003 as a collaboration between KEMRI, Médecins Sans Frontières, the World Health Organization, and four other publicly funded research institutions in Brazil, France, India, and Malaysia.
Over the last two decades, DNDi has successfully developed 12 treatments for six deadly diseases, which include sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis (Kala-azar), and mycetoma.
“More than a billion people belonging to the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged populations –half of whom are children– suffer from a group of diseases that cause severe social stigma and millions of deaths each year. These are diseases neglected by research, industry and commercial development,’ said the jury for the 2023 Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.
The initiative has developed numerous treatments for these serious diseases. Its strategy includes an ambitious plan to develop new drugs and treatments that will improve healthcare and save millions of lives worldwide.’
The Princess of Asturias award holds a special significance for DNDi, as the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
To mark this occasion, DNDi has planned a charity run and free medical camp in West Pokot in November 2023 as part of its anniversary celebrations.