Physicist Professor Stephen Hawking will lead global celebrations to mark the one billion treatments that Sightsavers and partners have delivered to people affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
Professor Hawking will speak at an event at the Møller Centre, Churchill College, University of Cambridge this week that will also include an address from Sightsavers President HRH Princess Alexandra; Lord Bates, Minister of State at the Department for International Development; and Nigerian Minister of Health Professor Isaac F Adewole.
The event will feature an exhibition documenting the global journey towards NTD elimination, as well as a short feature film looking at the people behind the billionth treatment. Global celebration events will also be held in Nigeria and Ireland.
In the 1950s, Professor Hawking’s father, Frank, was one of the first people to conduct research into and develop treatment for lymphatic filariasis, one of five NTDs that Sightsavers focuses on today.
Sightsavers CEO Dr Caroline Harper said: “We are delighted to announce that Professor Hawking will be delivering the keynote speech at our event in Cambridge.
“As one of the most famous scientists in the world, it will be an honour to hear his views on our journey towards NTD elimination, especially in relation to the research pioneered by his father.
“The scale of what has been achieved in the past five years through the combined efforts of governments, NGOs, communities and international organisations is almost unparalleled in the world of health, and our one billionth treatment milestone is a recognition of this.
“If it wasn’t for Frank Hawking’s research, and that of many other scientists, we may not be where we are today – on the brink of eliminating some of these NTDs for good. These celebrations will provide us with the opportunity to thank the many stakeholders who have made this achievement possible.”