The Global Institute for Disease Elimination awards USD1 million to ground-breaking health projects in endemic countries 


12 December 2021: The Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) has announced the winners of its inaugural Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination. The announcement took place today on Universal Health Coverage Day at EXPO 2020 Dubai, highlighting the international and innovative efforts underway to achieve health for all.

Launched in April this year, the Falcon Awards received 220 applications from across 44 countries as part of a drive to discover and implement innovative approaches to disease elimination which focus on eliminating one or more of GLIDE’s four focus diseases: malaria, polio, lymphatic filariasis and river blindness.

Malaria, polio and neglected tropical diseases thrive in resource-poor parts of the world, often in tropical and subtropical areas and amongst the most marginalised populations. Today, over 1.7 billion people suffer under the burden of these diseases. The Falcon Awards will support community-based initiatives by empowering local actors with the tools and financial backing to rid the world of these preventable diseases.

The winners of GLIDE’s inaugural Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination are:

  • Dr Abdul Samid Al-Kubati, Technical Manager of Yemen’s National Leprosy Elimination Program
  • Professor Daniel Adjei Boakye, Senior Technical Advisor at the END Fund, based at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana
  • Dr Jai Das, Assistant Professor for the Division of Women and Child Health and Section Head, Public Health and Epidemiology at Aga Khan University, Pakistan
  • Dr Fe Esperanza Espino, Medical Specialist in the Department of Health at The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Philippines
  • Dr Muhammad Salman, Chief of the Public Health Laboratories Division of Pakistan’s National Institute of Health

Simon Bland, Chief Executive Officer of GLIDE, said: “Innovation is vital if we want to eliminate ancient diseases of poverty. The quality of applications we received from individuals and organisations based in disease-endemic countries, is testament to the will to consign these diseases to the history books. We just need to act on it. We are immensely grateful to our jury, who took time out of their demanding day jobs to select five winners from our 10 talented finalists. Above all, we look forward to working with the winners over the coming year, bringing their innovative disease elimination strategies to life.”

The winners were selected by a jury of global health experts including Professor Maha Taysir Barakat, Board Chair of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria; Dr Sarthak Das, Chief Executive Officer of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance; Dr Tunji Funsho, Chair of Rotary’s National PolioPlus Committee; and Dr Katey Owen, Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sustaining Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination as a Public Health Problem in Yemen and Strengthening Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention 

Submitted by Abdul Samid Al-Kubati on behalf of the National Leprosy Elimination Program & Filariasis (NLEP), Yemen

Dr Al-Kubati is a physician with training in Dermatology and clinical tropical medicine. He has worked as the National Focal Point for Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) in Yemen and managed the LF program since 2000, leading up to the achievement of the elimination of LF as a public health problem in Yemen in 2019.

Optimizing Mass Drug Administration Expansion to Low Onchocerciasis Prevalence Settings

Submitted by Daniel Boakye on behalf of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Ghana

Daniel Boakye is a Professor with a PhD in Medical Entomology. He has over 40 years of experience and expertise in research collaborating with disease control programmes including NTDs at national and international levels on a wide range of vector-borne diseases and NTDs including onchocerciasis, malaria, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, STH, Buruli ulcer and leishmaniasis.

The Last Mile: Community Engagement and Conditional Incentives to Accelerate Polio Eradication in Conflict-Affected & Insecure Areas of Pakistan

Submitted by Jai Das on behalf of the Aga Khan University, Pakistan

Dr Jai Das is an Assistant Professor for the Division of Women and Child Health and is the Section Head of the Section of Public Health and Epidemiology at the Aga Khan University, Karachi. His interests are related to the use of evidence in policy and programs, including estimates of burden of disease, estimating effectiveness of various interventions, development of research capacity and the strengthening of public health.


Developing an Integrated and Enhanced Surveillance for Malaria and Lymphatic Filariasis for National Program Decision-Making to Accelerate their Elimination

Submitted by Fe Esperanza Espino on behalf of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippines

Dr Espino is a Medical Specialist in Research Institute for Tropical Medicine of the Department of Health, Philippines. She is a pediatric infectious disease specialist by training and has a PhD in Tropical Health.  Dr Espino heads the Department of Parasitology and the National Reference Laboratory for Malaria and other Parasites.

Rapid Detection of Wild Type-1 and Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus using Deep Sequencing During Polio Eradication Phase in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Submitted by Muhammad Salman on behalf of the National Institute of Health, Pakistan

Dr Muhammad Salman has been working in different capacities in the NIH since 1995. He is a fellow at the College of Physicians and Surgeon Pakistan in the discipline of Pathology with specialization in medical microbiology. During his experience, he has been participating in the implementation of number of projects related to infectious diseases, laboratory diagnosis and surveillance.