The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has named Dr. John N. Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), as the winner of the 2020 Global Goalkeeper Award. The award celebrates an established individual (or group) who has demonstrated commitment to the global development goals through impactful work during or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in their country or globally. It was handed over by Dr Solomon Zewdu, the Deputy Director for Health at the BMGF at a small ceremony at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
During the award presentation ceremony held on 23rd September, the AU said Dr. Nkengasong was awarded in recognition of his contributions to the global campaign against COVID-19.
In his acceptance speech, Dr Nkengasong paid tribute to the leadership of the African Union, for their unwavering support for the Africa CDC, and their leadership in the COVID-19 response. He also thanked the BMGF for the remarkable partnership with Africa CDC, right from the beginning.
While acknowledging the successes achieved by the continent, he further cautioned that the fight against the COVID-19 is far from over and called for continued strong partnerships, solidarity and unity of purpose among member states.
Commissioner Amira on behalf of the Chairperson of the AU, His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, congratulated the 2020 winner and paid tribute to him for his leadership, dedication, passion, patience, engagement with other public health officials, building of partnerships, and coordination of member states in the continental COVID-19 response.
A message from Bill and Melinda Gates described Dr. Nkengasong as "an important and central voice for Africa's medical community."
His work, according to the foundation, is vital to ensure the most promising vaccine candidates for the African population are identified and scaled up. He has brought together global vaccine developers and funders and local facilitators for late-stage vaccine clinical trials on Africa.
He has previously received several awards for HIV- and AIDS-related research that was published in international journals and was appointed as a special envoy on COVID-19 by World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Photo courtesy / Africa CDC
Article by Jedidah Mwangi