Media Statement
17 December 2020


The Department of Health recognizes, with pride, the achievement of Professor Salim Abdool Karim on being awarded the John Maddox prize jointly with Dr. Anthony Fauci.

This award has been conferred not only in recognition of the role he has played in steering the South African response to COVID-19, but also for his eminent contributions towards the management of the HIV/ AIDS pandemic, of which we continue to battle against even as we are affronted by the novel Coronavirus.

In the “senseaboutscience” website it is explained that: “Sir John Maddox, whose name this prize commemorates, was a passionate and tireless champion and defender of science, engaging with difficult debates and encouraging others to do the same.” We salute Prof. Karim as a professional that has consistently stood up to defend a scientific, evidence based approach to public health interventions. He has been a true and tireless soldier for the people- always driven by compassion for his compatriots.

His ability to distill complex epidemiological and scientific concepts into simple narratives that a diverse South African audience can understand and engage has been of critical importance in establishing trust and active citizenship as we sought to partner with our fellow South Africans in the fight against COVID-19.

Adds Minister Mkhize, “As chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, his unwavering support to me has lightened the weight of the responsibility I have carried as Minister of Health during this unprecedented time. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Professor Karim for his service to the country and its people.”

The Department also takes the opportunity to recognize and salute Prof. Karim and his wife, Prof. Quarraisha Abdool Karim (a world renowned academic and researcher in her own right), for being joint recipients of both the ‘500 Years of Magellan Award’ from the government of Chile and the ‘Gairdner Global Health Prize’– the highest scientific honour of Canada. As a country fraught with gender based societal ills, this husband and wife team is a sorely needed role model for our men and boys and our women and girls: an emblem of harmony and excellence that is forged  through the partnership of marriage.

Issued by the National Department of Health.