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18/06/2024 11:12 PM

SINGAPORE, June 18 (Bernama) -- Renowned Dutch microbiologist Professor Gertjan Medema has been awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2024 for his global impact in the field of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) that enabled the use of wastewater surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic to fight the spread of the virus.

Medema, 62, the 10th recipient of the award, introduced in 2008, received a gold medallion from Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam at a ceremony on Tuesday night here.

The laureate also received S$300,000 and a certificate.

The principal microbiologist at KWR Water Research Institute in the Netherlands said the award is a glory to everyone in the field.

“I am humbled by this award. I dedicate this award to those who explore and support, and make use of wastewater surveillance as a public health tool, and turning it into a success,” he said, adding that the prize money will be used towards further research.

Medema’s research revolved around understanding the transmission of waterborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistance via the water systems, and includes developing methods for detecting and tracing pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria and parasites in water.

He initiated the research on sewage surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic, inspiring similar studies worldwide.

There are currently more than 4,000 sites in 72 countries, including Singapore, that have adopted wastewater surveillance of SARS-CoV-2, and Medema himself was connected to about 30 per cent of these programmes directly.

The water quality and health expert has also been advising the World Health Organisation on microbiological drinking water guidelines and QMRA since 1991, as well as SARS, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) and wastewater surveillance.

Medema also advises the European Commission on the EU Drinking Water Directives and water reuse guidelines.

The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize sponsored by Temasek Foundation, is one of the key highlights of the Singapore International Water Week, a biennial platform for global water leaders and experts to share and co-create innovative solutions to tackle urban water challenges.

Named after Singapore’s founding prime minister, this prestigious international award honours outstanding contributions by individuals or organisations towards solving the world’s water challenges by developing or applying innovative technologies, policies or programmes that benefit humanity.






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