Lao Professor and Medical Expert Wins Prestigious Asia Innovation Award

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Professor Dr. Mayfong Mayxay, Vice President of the University of Health Sciences
Professor Dr. Mayfong Mayxay, Vice President of the University of Health Sciences (Photo: Faculty of Pharmacy, UHS Laos).

Professor Dr. Mayfong Mayxay, Vice President of the University of Health Sciences, has received an Asia Innovation Award under the Hitachi Global Foundation Asia Innovation Award 2020.

Prof. Mayfong is one of 12 people in Asia to receive the prestigious award, which was launched last year to promote science, technology, and innovation that contributes to solving social issues and realizing a sustainable society in the ASEAN region.

His research on eradicating malaria falls under one of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations, to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

According to the Asia Innovation Award official website, ending malaria by 2013 is one of the SDG-3 targets among many countries, including Laos. The elimination of malaria is faced with malaria drug-resistance and people carrying malaria without being sick. Effective tools to end malaria are urgently needed, including mass drug administration (MDA).

Prof. Mayfong and his team conducted field experiments using antimalarial medicines Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP)+primaquine (PQ). The experiments showed that MDA is safe, well-tolerated, achieved high population coverage and adherence, and had a substantial impact on malaria reduction, meaning it might be a useful tool to accelerate malaria elimination globally.

Drawing from this initial success in Laos, future malaria control and elimination programs elsewhere, particularly in malaria countries where the majority of very poor people are living, may become successful as well. This will, therefore, contribute to achieving the SDG-related concept of “leaving no one behind”.

Prof. Mayfong said in an interview with Vientiane Times after receiving the award, “As a researcher and lecturer in the field of medicine, I am very pleased, honored, and humbled to be given this prestigious innovation research award. This achievement is not only mine but also of the whole research team of the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit or LOMWRU at Mahosot Hospital and the Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit or MORU in Bangkok,”

Professor Mayfong was awarded a visiting professorship by the University of Oxford last year after publishing the highest number of research articles in international peer-reviewed journals, with his research achievements being significantly influential on healthcare in Laos.