UG honours Dr Nkengasong …for contribution to global healthcare

The University of Ghana (UG) has held this year’s Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg memorial lecture in Accra.

It has also conferred on the Director, African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr John Nkengasong, the Honorary Degree in Doctor of Science for his enormous role played in healthcare around the world.

Held last Friday, the lecture which was given by Dr Nkengasong was on the theme “Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic: Africa at a Crossroad?”

Giving the 40th lecture, Dr Nkengasong noted that the unprecedented but predictable COVID-19 pandemic had had a devastating human, economic and security impact on the world.

He said the pandemic had thought the world common connectivity, vulnerability and inequalities.

However, the Director of African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that to gain insights into the polarised COVID-19 world, “we must carefully examine the doctrine of fighting a pandemic by fully understanding its five “Ps”.

They were pathogen, population, policy, politics and partnership.

Regarding pathogen, he said the early characterisation of the causative agent of an outbreak was very critical as the pathogen that caused the COVID-19 pandemic was fully characterised by sequencing within four weeks of the outbreak.

Mr Nkengasong said the development paved the way for countries to begin developing diagnostics, therapeutic and vaccines, but no country in Africa developed any of the medical countermeasures, thus creating dependency.

He said the scenario exposed the continent’s inability to fight the pandemic and that should be a lesson for the continent to deal with such future crisis.

Mr Nkengasong said the role of the population was a critical component in fighting the pandemic, as such, investing in understanding population behaviour was so critical in fighting a pandemic.

He said it was imperative for policies to be contextualised to help guide countries’ responses to the pandemic, while effective, action-oriented partnerships were vital in times of pandemic.

Accepting the honour, he expressed his gratitude to the university for acknowledging his efforts, the government and his family for their support over the years.

Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, Chancellor, UG, who conferred the honour on Dr Nkengasong said it was in recognition of the role he had played over the years in fighting Human Immunodeficiency Virus /Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

The Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg memorial lecture series was instituted in 1957 to commemorate the contribution made by three persons memorialised to the founding of the Achimota College, now Achimota School and to the advancement of education in Ghana.

The three persons honoured by the lectures were James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey, Alexander Fraser and Gordon Guggisberg.

Delivered annually, the lecture series is a major event in the life of the UG and the country. Choice of theme and topic to be treated were entirely up to the discretion of the lecturer who was invariably distinguished in his or her field of endeavour.

BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR

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