The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation honoured the head of the African Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Dr John Nkengasong, for his role in curbing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic on the continent.

The foundation awarded Dr Nkengasong with the 2020 Global Goalkeeper Award. Part of the foundation’s campaign to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, the award recognises an established individual demonstrating significant commitment to health and development.

“The remarkable leadership in the continent response to Covid-19 has been a true demonstration of force. The power of understanding the need to collaborate, coordinate and communicate our efforts, gives us renewed sense of African leadership,” Dr Nkengasong said as he received the award.

Dr Nkengasong also thanked the Africa CDC staff, particularly “the young talented Africans we have put together to implement this vision.”

Securing a vaccine for the continent

As director of the Africa CDC, Dr Nkengasong also co-chairs the Africa CDC Consortium for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials (CONCVACT). He is leading the effort to  securement of a variety of late-stage vaccine clinical trials for Africa by bringing together global vaccine developers, funders, and local facilitators.

Dr Nkengasong wants Africans to play an active role in developing vaccines and medicines.

“We must envision an Africa that shows leadership in areas of manufacturing its own diagnostics, playing an active role in manufacturing vaccines and medicines to ensure the health security of this continent,” he says.

Supporting sustainability goals

Dr Nkengasong also thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation for supporting Africa’s public health efforts.

“I have always stated that the foundation believed in us before we believed in ourselves and they have always been there from the start,” he says.

“Dr. Nkengasong and his team at Africa CDC are deeply deserving of this award. Their commitment to securing the latest innovations from elsewhere in the world—as well as developing them themselves—will go a long way towards ensuring that the continent has the vaccines and medicines it needs to fight Covid-19,” says Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist and co-chair of the foundation.

The United Nations launched the Global Goals in 2015, with world leaders committing to 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These are a series of ambitious targets to achieve three goals by 2030: end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change. -Health-e News