Monday, 1 April 2013


Uganda’s Pride: Dr Coutinho Scoops Prestigious Award

A Ugandan doctor has been named winner of the prestigious Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.

By Ritah Nabulya 

Dr. Alex Godwin Coutinho was rewarded for pioneering efforts to expand access to life-sparing medicine for people infected with HIV.

Dr. Alex Godwin COUTINHO
The Government of Japan on Monday, 25th March 2013 announced the selection of the winners of the awards, mindful that the health challenges facing Africa are among the most serious around the globe.

According to a statement by the United Nations University, this Prize recognizes individuals or organizations who have contributed to combating infectious and other diseases in Africa, thereby enhancing the health and welfare of African people and of all humankind.

The Prize covers two categories: medical research and medical services.
The Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Laureate in the medical research category is Dr. Peter Piot of Belgium, selected in recognition of “his pivotal research on diseases endemic to much of the African continent, including HIV, Ebola, chlamydia, tuberculosis and gonorrhea”. Dr. Piot is currently Director and Professor of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK).

The Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Laureate in the medical services category is Dr. Alex Godwin Coutinho of Uganda, who is being recognized for “his pioneering efforts to expand access to life-sparing medicine for people infected with HIV”. Dr. Coutinho is currently Executive Director of the Infectious Disease Institute, Makerere University (Uganda).

The award is a big inspiration to young medical practitioners and medical students to selflessly strive and make society a better place to live.
These Prizes will be presented by Japanese Prime Minister Abe on 1 June 2013, on the first day of the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V).

Dr. Coutinho standing in the HIV clinic of IDI. The Clinic treats 400 patients a day and serves 10,000 patients (4,000 of them having complicated HIV) – one of the largest clinic under one roof in Africa.
The Prize Laureate in each category will receive a citation, a medal and an honorarium of 100 million yen.

On 4 June, at the United Nations University in Tokyo, the Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Laureates will deliver commemorative addresses at an event organized by the Cabinet Office of Japan and the United Nations University.

The Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize was established by the Government of Japan to commemorate the work of Japanese microbiologist Dr. Hideyo Noguchi (1876–1928), who conducted research in Africa and around the world on yellow fever, leptospirosis, trachoma and other infectious diseases, and who in 1911 discovered the infectious agent of syphilis.

This Prize is awarded every five years to coincide with TICAD. The recipients of the inaugural Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize, awarded on 28 May 2008 on the occasion of TICAD IV, were Prof. Sir Brian Greenwood, Manson Professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (medical research category), and Prof. Miriam K. Were, Chairperson of Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council (medical services category).

Who is Alex Godwin Coutinho?
Born in Uganda in 1959, He went to St. Mary's College Kisubi for both his O and A ' levels.  Coutinho obtained an MD and an MSc at Makerere University and MPH from University Witwatersrand. Former Executive Director of The AIDS Support Organization (TASO). He is Currently Executive Director of the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) – Makerere University.

He was rewarded for pioneering efforts to expand access to life-sparing medicine for people infected with HIV.

Dr. Coutinho meeting district officials and health staff in a remote rural area on the Uganda / Democratic Republic of Congo Border. IDI working with TASO provides HIV counseling and testing services and HIV treatment to people from both countries. This program is funded by CDC/US government.

Working directly with Africa’s oldest HIV patients’ advocacy organization TASO (The AIDS Support Organization), Dr. Coutinho has created models of HIV prevention, care, and treatments that both bring high professional rigor to medical services, and empower patients, families and communities.

Dr. Coutinho’s efforts focused on the needs of the poorest of the Africa’s poor, bringing AIDS care to thousands of individuals long underserved for all forms of health care, thus serving as a model of applicable for a broader range of medical exigencies.

Dr. Coutinho took the TASO community model and adapted it to treatment scale up so that ARVs could reach the needy in the remotest corners of Uganda.

The model is now been adopted globally and enables the poorest to get their treatment close to where they live.

Years of direct and sincere treatment for HIV/AIDS patients Dr. Coutinho in his 30-year career has first and foremost been an active and compassionate clinician who has spent his time treating thousands of HIV/AIDS patients at a time when there was a lot of stigma and fear. He mentored hundreds of health workers as well as trained a cross-section of community care givers.

In Swaziland he began workplace HIV prevention programmes that were the pioneer 6 programmes in southern Africa. He also established excellent clinical facilities even before public programmes started dedicated HIV services.

Demonstration of models of care and treatment at TASO Dr. Coutinho’s main contributions were when he took over the leadership of TASO and demonstrated models of scaled up care and treatment that have been copied and emulated around the world.

In particular in TASO, he pioneered home-based care including home-based and community-based delivery of antiretroviral therapy.

TASO is a world leader in engaging and involving HIV+ people in their care and this practice led to the establishment of GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS).

Dr. Coutinho mentoring a joint meeting between IDI, Baylor College Uganda, Ministry of Health and Ugandan Association of Obstetrics. The meeting was discussing how to improve Obstetric care including HIV care for pregnant women in Uganda.

Within TASO alone, Dr. Coutinho led a programme that tested over 1 million people and started 100,000 HIV+ onto a care and treatment programme.  After joining the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) in 2007, Dr. Coutinho through the IDI programmes continued his scale-up of care and treatment and added another 60,000 HIV+ people on care and treatment over the next 5 years and in addition tested another 800,000 across Uganda.

Dr. Coutinho has also led IDI to develop innovative capacity building programmes that have enabled districts to scale up HIV prevention care and treatment including male circumcision and comprehensive PMTCT (Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission).

Support for development of the next-generation HIV prevention tools.
Through his work with the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), Dr. Coutinho has contributed to knowledge towards a new generation of HIV prevention tools and in fact IPM is now in a Phase III trial of a dapivirine ring that could change the face of HIV prevention in Africa. IDI has also been one of the sites that has successfully researched pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP) in discordant couples.

Development of approaches for HIV/AIDS management (control)
Dr. Coutinho has pioneered several approaches to managing HIV/AIDS that have led to scale-up of HIV programmes within Africa and improved the prevention of HIV as well as ensured that millions access good quality care and treatment. 

This has been achieved through the scale-up of programmes like home-based HIV testing, home-based care and treatment, PMTCT, and medical male circumcision.

Conservatively, the work that Dr. Coutinho has led has touched the lives of over 1,000,000 people in Uganda and probably many more than that in the rest of Africa.

He has also worked on the scale-up of capacity building programmes in TASO, IDI and the Regional AIDS Training Network (RATN) that have trained thousands of health workers across Africa—a conservative estimate over the past 10 years is 30,000 health workers trained between TASO and IDI while Dr. Coutinho has been at their helm.

Dr Coutinho has also managed to carry out research to policy by supporting research that has taken place in TASO and IDI and guiding its adoption into national and global policy. 

This includes among others the use of co-trimoxazole as an opportunistic infection prophylaxis in HIV+ people, the adoption of home-based management and treatment protocols that have led to  decongestion of health facilities, the use of rapid testing algorithms, the prophylaxis of cryptococcal meningitis and the demonstration of task shifting for medical male circumcision.

Uganda’s Pride: Dr Coutinho Scoops Prestigious Award

A Ugandan doctor has been named winner of the prestigious Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.
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  1. While this prestigious award is principally for the alma mater, it definitely goes to Alex Coutinho for unlocking his inherent qualities of passion, commitment, empathy and sense of purpose to mix with his brilliance leading to a high level of competencies that have seen him register this rare achievement. I wish to sincerely congratulate him on the outstanding milestone in his life. This is like putting one's foot on the Moon or Mars! May the name of St Mary's continue to shine and the products to remain the beacons of development in the region and globally.
    Thank you for making us so proud and may the Lord lead you to yet loftier heights.

    Dr. Lawrence Kaggwa, Senior Consultant Surgeon and Consultant in Health Systems (SMACK OB)

  2. We All proudly join hands with you in order to show our exceptional joy towards Dr Alex Coutinho's very wonderful achievement which is a glorious feat for SMACK.

    How much now do I feel honoured by Dr Coutinho's award! I really feel more SMACK now than a minute ago when I hadn't yet landed on this very exciting item!

    Dr. Coutinho's achievement and attainment are our honour, glory, and specific dignity!

    Ha! I always tell people that SMACK has been, is, and will always remain N° 1 college all over the region! Nobody can stand to this after witnessing Dr Alex Coutinho's success!

    Thank you so much, Dr Alex!
    Dr. G. H. Kkolokolo (SMACKOBA - France)

  3. All congratulations are in order for Dr. Alex Coutinho - a great Ugandan and SMACK OB.

    And thank you Willy for your very informative blog.

    John Nazareth

    John Nazareth

    Senior Reliability

    Maintenance Engineering

  4. Congratulations, Alex Coutinho!
    The world is getting to know what St Mary's people have known for many years - that Alex stands up there among the very best the world can offer.
    Thank you Alex for your pioneering work and for allowing the rest of us to be associated with it

    Joseph Kitamirike