Desmond Tutu TB Centre receives Stop TB Partnership Kochon Prize

13 November 2012 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - The Desmond Tutu TB Centre at Stellenbosch University in South Africa’s Western Cape is the winner of this year’s Kochon Prize. The centre is named for its patron, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who had tuberculosis (TB) as a child and has throughout his lifetime advocated on behalf of people affected by TB. The centre is being honoured today for its ground-breaking research on childhood TB and for pioneering community-based approaches to TB and HIV care.

"I am honoured that the Desmond Tutu TB Centre is the recipient of the Stop TB Partnership Kochon Prize. In accepting this award, we wish to acknowledge the leadership of the Stop TB Partnership and the critical role it plays in advancing the global fight against TB and in giving a voice to people whose voices are unheard. We also wish to express our gratitude to the Kochon Foundation," said Desmond Tutu, Archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. "This generous award will allow us to continue our work saving the lives of children ill with TB and seeking solutions we believe can culminate in a world free of TB."

The US$ 65 000 Kochon Prize has been awarded annually for the past six years to persons, institutions or organizations that have made a highly significant contribution to combating TB, a disease that is curable but still causes the deaths of three people every minute. The Prize is fully funded by the Kochon Foundation, which is located in the Republic of Korea. This 2012 prize was announced at the Stop TB Symposium, an annual event at the World Conference of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. Dr Anneke Hesseling, director of the paediatric TB programme, accepted the award on behalf of the centre.

"Every day, across the world, 200 children die of tuberculosis. This is absolutely shameful, considering that we are in 2012, and it costs less than 3 cents a day to provide preventive treatment and 50 cents a day to provide treatment that will cure the disease. But children are often forgotten. The Desmond Tutu Centre has been at the forefront of organizations fighting to end the tragedy of TB in children" said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership.

The Desmond Tutu TB Centre has its main offices on the Tygerberg Campus at Stellenbosch University and satellite offices in communities affected by TB. Its mission is to improve the health of vulnerable groups, with a special emphasis on children and families. The centre achieves this goal by influencing health policy, particularly on TB and HIV, via the results of its research. The centre works closely with the South African Department of Health and local communities.

The centre, together with Stellenbosch University’s Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, focuses on the problems and issues associated with childhood TB. It has established a number of outreach projects in areas where research is conducted; operating on the principle that research should be integrated with the services delivered by the Department of Health. It also established and runs the world’s first international childhood TB training programme.

The scientific body of work on childhood TB produced by the centre’s researchers includes more than 300 articles on the epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of childhood TB. This work has engendered ten international policy documents on childhood TB, creating a robust evidence base for addressing childhood TB.

Anglican priest Desmond Mpilo Tutu became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches in 1978. He called for equal rights for all South Africans and a system of common education. Tutu encouraged nonviolent resistance to the apartheid regime and advocated an economic boycott of the country.

A month after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, Tutu was elected the first black Anglican bishop of Johannesburg. In 1986 he was elected Archbishop of Cape Town, the highest position in the Anglican Church in South Africa. In 1989 he led a march to a whites-only beach, where he and supporters were chased off with whips. In 1995 he was appointed as Chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission by then President Nelson Mandela, to investigate apartheid-era crimes.

Archbishop Tutu, who holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch, is regarded as an elder world statesman with a major role to play in reconciliation and as a leading moral voice. In October 2012 he was awarded a prize in recognition of his "lifelong commitment to speaking truth to power" by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which promotes good governance in Africa.

The Kochon Foundation is a non-profit foundation registered in the Republic of Korea. The Prize was established in 2006 in honour of the late Chairman Chong-Kun Lee, founder of both the Foundation and Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corporation in Korea.

Click here to see a video statement by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the occasion of the awarding of the Kochon Prize to the Desmond Tutu TB Centre.