The DNDi Africa Regional Office Director is the only recipient from Eastern Africa in this cohort of the award
DNDi Africa Regional Office Director Dr Monique Wasunna was presented with the rank of Officer of the prestigious French National Order of Merit (Ordre national du Mérite) award on 23 September 2021 by the French government. She received the award at the French embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and is the only recipient of the award from the East Africa region in this cohort.
The award was given in recognition of her exemplary work helping people with neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and advocating for better treatments for neglected patients in Africa.
Dr Wasunna has been working with neglected patients for over 30 years. She has been a principal investigator in clinical trials to find better treatment options for neglected patients. She has spearheaded the building and strengthening of regional partnerships in research and development for NTDs in Eastern Africa to expand clinical trial capacities in the region. Her research interests primarily focus on visceral leishmaniasis, mycetoma, malaria, and HIV.
The French National Order of Merit is a presidential award that recognizes distinguished services or acts of devotion, bravery, generosity, and commitment to the service of others, in the military or in the public and private sectors. It is ranked as the second highest award in France after the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur).
Upon receiving the award, Dr Wasunna said ‘I am humbled and grateful to be receiving this award. I have devoted my professional life to finding better treatments for leishmaniasis and other neglected diseases. Today, a new commitment has been birthed in me. I have reason for hope. I dedicate this award to the children and patients suffering from leishmaniasis.’
The Ambassador of France to Kenya and to Somalia H. E. Mrs Aline Kuster-Menager said ‘This evening, France would like to honor Dr Wasunna for her dedication in improving and protecting human lives affected by NTDs. We need more men and women of goodwill like her with a deep knowledge and understanding of medical science,’ in her speech while giving the award to Dr Wasunna.
Photo credit: Lameck Ododo-DNDi