ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 25 MAY 2020. The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Quartey Thomas Kwesi, today announced the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Kofi Annan Global Health Leadership Programme, in memory of late Kofi Atta Annan, seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and founding chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation.
In April 2001, Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General, stood before Nigerian President Obasanjo and other UN officials at the African Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Other Infectious Diseases in Abuja, Nigeria, and proposed a global AIDS fund. He said, “This is a conference about Africa’s future,” before unveiling his action plan to fight the pandemic.
“AIDS has become not only the primary cause of death on this continent, but one of the biggest development challenges. Kofi Annan called for a ‘war chest’ to fight AIDS and other major infectious diseases that particularly affect Africa. And that is why I have made the battle against it my personal priority,” said H.E. Quartey Kwesi.
“In 2014 when the Ebola epidemic struck in West Africa, Kofi Annan publicly called for the establishment of an African institution that would focus on disease prevention and control on the continent. Today, Africa CDC, an institution of the African Union, plays a leading role in shaping Africa’s response to COVID-19. The Kofi Annan Foundation is deeply gratified that its founder is being honoured with the establishment of this scholars and leadership programme at Africa CDC. It is an important initiative that will advance our founder’s vision for a healthy Africa,” said El Hadj As Sy, Chairman, Board of Kofi Annan Foundation.
Africa faces several challenges that hinder the retention of highly skilled and experienced leaders who can help transform its public health institutions into efficiently managed, world class, technical entities that can deliver top quality healthcare services. The Governing Board of Africa CDC approved this leadership programme in March 2018 to attract experienced public health professionals from the private, public and non-profit sectors and the academia to support capacity building of public health institutions in Africa.
“We are moved that our beloved late husband and father is being honored by the African Union in naming its global health leadership programme after him. He was a visionary leader who also used all he had to ensure realization of his dreams. Seeing the devastation by HIV/AIDS, he threw himself into a response that led to the birth of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He had a strong belief in Africa and would have approved this initiative,” said a representative of the Kofi Annan family.
“The world will always remember an iconic global statesman, who, besides his tireless efforts for peace and justice, was also one of the greatest global health leaders of our time. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is undoubtedly part of his legacy,” said Peter Piot, former Executive Director of UNAIDS and current Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK.
“He said, “I have made the battle against it (AIDS) my personal priority”, and boldly called for billions of dollars at a time when we were still struggling to find millions, and the prevailing wisdom at the time was that billions were just not available, and antiretroviral therapy in low-income countries was not possible and was too expensive. He fully deserves to be honored in this manner by Africa CDC,” added Peter Piot.
The Africa CDC Kofi Annan Global Health Leadership Programme has three components: (1) Public Health Leadership Fellow Programme, (2) Public Health Scholar Programme, and (3) Virtual Leadership Academy.
The Public Health Leadership Programme will support capacity development of emerging and established public health leaders to becoming ardent, effective leaders who can support and empower others, and provide strategic leadership for Africa to achieve the health goals of the Sustainable Development Goals by African Union Member States.
The Public Health Scholar Programme will support the placement of experienced public health experts within National Public Health Institutes and Ministries of Health to support strategic leadership for public health planning, coordination, management, advocacy, and policy development leading to positive and progressive organizational change at the country level.
The Virtual Leadership Academy will become the continent’s leading virtual “think tank” public health leadership platform that will connect the public with public health professionals to discuss healthcare-related issues across the continent.
“Africa CDC is honoured that the Kofi Annan family and foundation has accepted the naming of the newly established Global Health Leadership Programme after the distinguished former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nobel Laureate and son of Africa,” said H.E. Amira Elfadil Mohamed Elfadil, Commissioner of Social Affairs at African Union Commission.
“Africa is a resilient continent, but we need stronger health systems that can support communities to become more resilient. The Kofi Annan Global Health Leadership is a visionary programme that will help provide the capacity needed to respond to disease threats across the continent. Africa CDC welcomes this very important programme especially at such a time that the world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and advancing the Continental Free Trade Agreement,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.