The government has formally announced an award named after scientist Hideyo Noguchi to honor medical researchers and personnel working for Africa, with the first presentation scheduled for 2008.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who first brought up the award during his trip to Ghana in May, made the official announcement Tuesday during a visit by Alpha Oumar Konare, chairman of the African Union Commission.

Speaking at a joint news conference after their meeting, Koizumi said he wants to make the award comparable to the Nobel Prize and hopes to see many countries in the world take an interest in this initiative.

Konare praised the award as one that symbolizes Noguchi’s self-sacrifice and dedication to helping Africa.

Noguchi died of yellow fever in Ghana in 1928 while conducting research on the disease.

Koizumi and Konare agreed that the award will be go to individuals or groups that make an achievement in medical research or medicine contributing to Africa’s improvement.

The first award will be presented at the fourth meeting of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in 2008, government officials said.

The award, which will be open to anyone regardless of nationality or age, will carry 100 million yen in prize money. It is to be approved by the Cabinet on Friday.

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