On 6 July, during her official visit to Gabon, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, visited the Hôpital de Lambaréné, founded in 1913 by Dr Albert Schweitzer, humanitarian and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 1952. This 100-year old hospital in the heart of Gabon has become a university research and health centre that continues the work of Albert Schweitzer in Lambaréné, the birthplace of a modern breed of humanitarian medicine.
The Director-General made a speech during the Albert Schweitzer memorial session, which was opened by H.E. Mr Ali Bongo Odimba, President of the Republic of Gabon, and attended by senior Gabonese officials, representatives of foreign governments, members of the Schweitzer family, eminent figures and researchers, and academics from the five continents.
During a high-level debate with Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Ms Irina Bokova stressed the importance of education, in particular for girls and young women, in the fight against HIV and AIDS, as well as the role of scientific research for progress and human development. Ms Leyman Gbowee of Liberia, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2011, Pr Luc Montagnier, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, Mr Peter Agre, winner of the Nobel Peace in Chemistry 2003, and Mr Rolf Martin Zinkernagel, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine 1996, participated in the debates at the inaugural session.
In closing this important event, H.E. Mr Ali Bongo Odimba, convinced that “the profession of researcher is the best in the world,” announced the creation of the Prix International du Gabon Albert Schweitzer, to reward scientists for their work.