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Monday, 17th February 2020

Drogheda man wins major humanitarian award

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Professor Kevin McGuigan.

Kevin’s work on disinfecting water supplies saving millions of lives in developing countries

Drogheda man Kevin McGuigan, a Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, has been awarded the prestigious UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences for his pioneering work on disinfecting water supplies, work that  is saving countless lives in developing countries.

Professor McGuigan, who lives in Westcourt, Drogheda and is a former student of St. Joseph's CBS, was honoured for his cutting-edge research on the development of solar water disinfection technology (SODIS) to combat waterborne diseases among people without access to safe drinking water in Africa and Asia.

His approach to this research is unique and pioneering among the communities most exposed to waterborne diseases in developing countries. His research group demonstrated the impact using SODIS on childhood diarrhoea in 1996 and then on dysentery. He has since demonstrated its effectiveness against all major waterborne pathogens.

More recently, an EU-funded project called WATERSPOUTT, which is also coordinated by Professor McGuigan, has developed three solar water disinfection technologies that are currently being field tested in Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda and South Africa.

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He is also the research coordinator for PANI-water, a four-year project that is developing six prototypes that will be deployed in rural and peri-urban areas in India.

“I’m honoured to receive this award in recognition of the work our group has accomplished over the past 30 years,” said Professor McGuigan.

“Nearly five million people use solar water disinfection on a daily basis to meet their water requirements. Nevertheless, we have an expanding global population relying on a shrinking reserve of safe water, which is vulnerable to contaminants of emerging concern. There is no time to rest on our laurels. The fight to provide access to safe water for all continues.”

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is ranked among the top 250 (top 2%) of universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2020) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. It is an international not-for-profit university, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. RCSI has been awarded Athena Swan Bronze accreditation for positive gender practice in higher education.

The UNESCO–Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences is to reward the projects and activities of an individual, individuals, institutions, other entities or non-governmental organizations for scientific research in the life sciences, which have led to improving the quality of human life. The Prize encourages research and the establishment and development of networks of centres of excellence in the life sciences.

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