On June15, 2021, the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation(ACHEST) delivered the keynote address at inaugural session of the 2021 Kofi Annan Public Health Leadership Fellowship Programme.
Launched in May 2020 by the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Kofi Annan Foundation, the Leadership Programme aims to support aspirational public health leaders (Fellows) from Africa in acquiring advanced skills and competencies to strategize, manage and lead programmes that will transform public health in Africa. The programme was established in honour of the late Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006.
This year, 20 fellows from 14 African Union member States have been selected to participate in the fellowship over the course of 12 months.
ACHEST was invited to share its expertise with the Fellows, in the areas of leadership, governance, health diplomacy, and human resources for health management of public health initiatives in Africa.
The ACHEST Executive Director Prof Francis Omaswa opened the dialogue with the discussion on African health leadership: historical background,opportunities and
prospects for the future” He highlighted the importance of good governance and ownership in achieving population health; and described the triangle that moves mountains as: people’s needs, knowledge generation/research, and the politicians.“ Knowledge generation should be about the people – responding to the needs of the people. If the research generators are in sync with the people, the politicians just become a rubber stamp, if they want to be elected,” said Prof. Omaswa.
The ACHEST Director of Health Policy, Dr. Patrick Kadama talked about Global Health Diplomacy and the power dynamics in global, regional and global health. He discussed measures and options that African Health leaders could use to mitigate the existing structural inequalities. He noted that one of the most important things to do is build capacity of South-South networks of leaders and public health alliances, to help guide and support with negotiations on global issues in the north.
Another topic of discussion was Inter-sectoral collaboration for health which was facilitated by the ACHEST Director of Health Systems, Dr. David Okello. He highlighted the work done by ACHEST such as the 2017 study that was carried out in a study of 7 East and Southern African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) to examine how the SDGs Agenda is being implemented and the implications for health. The study found that the SDGs are interconnected, integrated and are best achieved through ISC. A follow-up assessment of ISC in Uganda in 2018/2019 found that implementation of Government programs was mostly in silos. People participation was weak, and health is perceived to be taken care of by someone else – mostly by donors. The key message was that sustainable health development cannot be driven by donors. It has to be inter-sectoral, “owned and driven by African populations themselves.”
The ACHEST Director Health Workforce Education and Development Dr. Elsie Kiguli- Malwadde gave a presentation on how education and training as an entry point for Africa’s transformation. She talked about the current state of medical education in Africa, challenges faced by the health workforce in sub-Saharan Africa and the innovations especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic as health professionals education(HPE) adapts to new digital technologies. Expanding education and training capacity, embracing change, partnerships, leadership and education is the way forward.
Details of this dialogue will be shared in the Africa Health Journal, July 2021 edition(Africa-Health.com)
Compiled by Carol Natukunda, Communications Specialist ACHEST