Our congratulations go to Dr Riko Muranaka who has been awarded the John Maddox Prize for her work countering misinformation about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine. This vaccine is endorsed by the World Health Organization as being a key tool in the prevention of cervical and other cancer. Riko Muranaka is a doctor in Japan who has stood up to explain the benefits of this vaccine in a country where scare campaigns have seen the vaccination rate fall from 70% to 1% and despite considerable hostility, personal threats and legal challenges.
The John Maddox Prize is a joint initiative between Sense About Science, Nature and the Kohn Foundation, to recognise individuals to have gone above and beyond to stand up for science in public debates
On hearing news of her award, Dr Muranaka said, "“It is a great surprise and pleasure to be awarded such an honourable prize, one that commemorates a great editor and writer Sir John Maddox — a champion of evidence who believed in promoting sound science in the public interest even in the face of hostility. In terms of my own work, I simply cannot ignore dangerous claims that threaten public health. I want people to hear the truth, that’s the reason I continue to write and speak out.”
Natasha Loder, health-care correspondent, the Economist and judge commented, “Speaking truth against vested interests has never been more important. But it is difficult and sometimes comes at great cost. Dr Muranaka’s bravery and strength in fighting for public health stood out among this year’s brilliant applicants. She is fighting to ensure that Japanese girls have access to the HPV vaccine in the face of a successful misinformation campaign.”
Read more about the John Maddox Prize and find out about the other nominees on the Sense About Science website.