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Beninese wins $100,000 for innovation of anti-malaria drug

Beninese wins $100,000 for innovation of anti-malaria drug


A Beninese doctor, Valentin Agon, has been awarded $100,000 for innovating an anti-malaria drug treatment which has hit the markets in his native Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR).

The drug, Api-Palu, is made from natural plant extract and is significantly cheaper than anti-malarial drugs currently on the market; it has great inhibitory effects on 3D7 strains of plasmodium falciparum the causative agent of malaria.

He was awarded at a glittering ceremony that marked the five-year milestone anniversary of the Innovation Prize for Africa’s (IPA) landmark programme of the African Innovation Foundation (AIF).

The programme rewards innovative healthcare solutions that particularly offers ground-breaking responses to address Africa’s prevailing malaria and HIV/AIDS burdens.

This year, there was a total of 985 applications, with only 10 nominees selected. From these 10, Dr Valentin Agon of Benin was selected overall winner, South African Imogen Wright took Second Prize, and Dr Eddy Agbo of Nigeria got the Special Prize for Social impact.

Imogen Wright’s for her second prize won $25 000 for Exatype, a software solution that enables healthcare workers to determine HIV positive patients’ responsiveness to ARV drug treatment.

The Social Impact Prize of $25 000 awarded to Dr Eddy Agbo of Nigeria was for his Urine Test for Malaria (UMT) a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes.

According to Jean Claude Bastos de Morais, AIF Founding Board Member, “IPA 2016 marks some historic achievements since its inception in 2011.”

“Besides a huge database of more than 6 000 innovators for increased share and exchange of information and a cash investment of US$1 million, we received endorsement from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in support of innovation-led strategies to boost national development. We are proud of the overwhelming response we have received for the competition thus far and congratulate all 10 nominees and the winners,” he added.

The AIF partnered with the Government of Botswana (GoB) and the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) to host IPA 2016 under the theme ‘‘Made in Africa.’‘

President of Botswana, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, presided over the prestigious awards ceremony, held at the Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC) in the capital’s metropolis.

Facts about disease in Africa

  • Disease, especially in Africa, is a preventable cause of poverty
  • Disease remains a pressing problem in the continent
  • A 2015 World Bank report states that 99% of people who die from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis (TB) live in the developing world
  • The heartbeat of the HIV and AIDs epidemic is sub-Saharan Africa
  • Sub Saharan Africa is home to 70% of all new HIV infections
  • Malaria kills about 660 000 people each year
  • Economists believe that malaria is responsible for a growth penalty of up to 1.3% in some African countries, hindering economic growth in the region.