ISGlobal | Barcelona Institute for GlobalHealth

Various Awards Recognise the Fight Against Yaws

Various Awards Recognise the Fight Against Yaws

The work of researcher Oriol Mitjà has been recognised by the Premio Internacional Alfons Comín and the United Nations Association of Spain Peace Prize

Graham Jepson

The tireless fight against yaws led for some time now by Oriol Mitjà, a specialist in infectious diseases, has been recognised by two awards that highlight the ISGlobal researcher’s social commitment and defence of fundamental human rights.

On Wednesday last, November 22, the Fundació Alfons Comín presented Mitjà the Alfons Comín International Award for his “dedication to fighting the neglected tropical diseases that affect the world’s poorest communities”. The prize is given in recognition of social initiatives, solidarity and the defence of justice. The ceremony took place in the Saló de Cent in Barcelona’s Town Hall. The journalist Milagros Pérez Oliva delivered the opening remarks and Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, also attended the event.

Next Wednesday, 29 November, Oriol Mitjà will receive the 38th Peace Prize, an award given annually since 1980 by the United Nations Association in Spain (UNA-Spain)with the support of the Barcelona Provincial Council. The accolade recognises the achievements of his career and his dedication to the defence of human rights and the fundamental freedoms.

Finally, the documentary film Where the Roads End has received the Boehringer Ingelheim Prize 2017 in the category of audiovisual journalism. The film tells the story of Oriol Mitjà’s work on Lihir Island, where he carried out his research on yaws disease.

In 2012, Mitjà demonstrated that there was a safe, effective and inexpensive treatment for yaws, a skin disease that mainly affects underprivileged children in Africa and the Pacific and causes stigmatisation, disability and social exclusion.He showed that yaws can be cured with a single pill of the oral antibiotic azithromycin.

As a result of the findings of the studies led by Dr Mitjà at ISGlobal, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has established the goal of eradicating yaws from our planet by 2020. If this goal is achieved, yaws will be only the second disease—after smallpox—to be eradicated worldwide.

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