A delegation of senior health officials from 11 African countries and the African Union presented a leadership award on April 22, 2009, to President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center for their work over the past 25 years in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Africa. The delegation was in Washington to promote public-private partnerships in health and to directly advocate for continued US support and funding for African health initiatives.
The presentation was made at a reception on Capitol Hill attended by members of the African diplomatic corps, Congress and the Obama administration, and representatives of the NGO and business communities. It was hosted by Global Health Progress (GHP), a partnership initiative of research-based biopharmaceutical companies; and the global advocacy group ONE. The Whitaker Group (TWG), Washington’s premier consultancy on issues of trade, investment and health in Africa, coordinated the delegation’s visit to the US.
“President Carter and the Carter Center lead from the heart,” said Ms. Rosa Whitaker, TWG’s President and CEO. “No one donor or government or NGO can do it alone. The Carter Center shows that leadership working in partnership with African health services and the private sector can and does make a difference in meeting Africa’s significant health challenges.”
The delegation, made up of officials from the African Union, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, was in Washington from April 19 to 25 to advance health partnerships between governments, NGOs, foundations, universities and the private sector. Hosted by GHP, the visit also provided US government and congressional leaders with the opportunity to hear about Africa’s health challenges directly from those who deal with them on the ground.
“There are many things pushing and pulling on the US government at the moment, so we need to have Africans who are on the frontlines talk to members of Congress and the government to keep Africa’s health needs on the front burner,” said Mr. Chris Singer, President International of PhRMA, the trade association that represents America’s pharmaceutical companies and drives the GHP initiative.
The African delegation also held numerous meetings with representatives from the private sector, NGOs, foundations and universities to discuss a host of issues including HIV/AIDS, neglected tropical diseases, malaria and safe medicines.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Dr. Sam Zaramba, Uganda’s Director General of Health Services, gave particular credit to The Carter Center for its work in all but eradicating guinea worm disease. Incidence of the disease has dropped 99.7% from 3.5 million cases in 20 countries in 1986, when President Carter launched the eradication campaign, to under 5,000 cases in six countries today.
Accepting the award on behalf of President Carter were Dr. John Hardman, President and CEO of The Carter Center, and Dr. Don Hopkins, the Center’s Vice President for Health Programs. Dr. Hardman commended African governments for their commitment to working with The Carter Center to combat guinea worm and a host of other NTDs, including trachoma, river blindness, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filiriasis and malaria.
“The Carter Center is not the main ingredient,” Dr. Hopkins said, describing it, rather, as a “catalyst” working with African Ministries of Health and community groups on the ground.
Also at the reception was Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA) who spoke about the necessity to work together as a global community to solve health problems. “We are a now a globe coming together,” she said, “and if we are not concerned about the pandemics that spread on other continents, then we are from another planet.” She invoked President Barack Obama’s motto: We listen, we learn, we lead.
Dr. Grace Kalimugogo, the African Union Commission’s Coordinator for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, thanked the US Congress for passage of the reauthorization of the $48 billion President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). “While it is true that only the United States has the capacity to sustain such a large program,” she said, “it is also true that only the United States has the will to show such unprecedented generosity.”
She also thanked GHP for hosting the delegation’s visit. “Not only has it given us the opportunity to speak to US policymakers and representatives from the private sector and NGOs, it has also provided invaluable opportunities, both formal and informal, for an exchange of ideas between our respective health ministries,” she said. “With greater communication we are able to share models of successful public-private partnerships that may be replicated elsewhere. A problem shared is a problem solved.”
The 2009 African Health Delegation
1. Dr. Grace Kalimugogo, Coordinator for HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis, Social Affairs Department of the African Union Commission
2. Mr. Newman Kahiya, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health of Botswana
3. Dr. Marina Anderson, Public Health Specialist in the Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care, Ministry of Health of Botswana
4. Dr. Elias Sory, Director General, Ghana Health Service
5. Prof. James L. Ole Kiyiapi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Medical Services of Kenya
6. Dr. Lillian A. Kocholla, Senior Officer for Programs and Partnerships, Ministry of Medical Services of Kenya
7. Dr. Karabo Mokobocho-Mohlakoana, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Health of Lesotho
8. Dr. Kelita Kamoto, Director of HIV/AIDS, Ministry of Health of Malawi
9. Mr. Sidi Yeya Cissé, Chief of Programming and Analysis, Ministry of Health of Mali
10. Mr. Peter Ndaitwa, Under Secretary for Policy Development and Resource Management, Ministry of Health and Social Services of Namibia
11. Dr. Ali Djibo, Director General of Public Health, Ministry of Health of Niger
12. Dr. Muhammed Lecky, Director of Planning, Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria
13. Dr. Gilbert Mliga, Director of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Tanzania
14. Dr. Sam Zaramba, Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health of Uganda
Global Health Progress is an initiative of research-based biopharmaceutical companies and global health leaders coming together to improve health in the developing world.
One is a grassroots campaign and advocacy organization committed to fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.
The Whitaker Group is the premier strategic consulting firm in the US creating sustainable prosperity in Africa. It builds partnerships between people, governments and the private sector to bring trade and investment to Africa and to improve the health of her people.
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