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Africa CDC Director, John Nkengasong Wins 2020 Global Goalkeeper Award

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – JANUARY 28: John Nkengasong, director of African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, holds a press conference on coronavirus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 28, 2020. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Dr. John Nkengasong was awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2020 Global Goalkeeper Award.

The award celebrates an established individual or group who has shown commitment to the global development goals through impactful work during or in response to the coronavirus pandemic in their country and/or globally.

The award was presented to Nkengasong by Dr. Solomon Zewdu, the Deputy Director for Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at a small ceremony at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation described Nkengasong as a “central voice” for Africa’s scientific community and a “relentless proponent” of global cooperation and evidence-based public health practices.

“Through his role as the co-chair of the African CDC Consortium for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials Dr. Nkengasong is leading the securement of a variety of late-stage vaccine clinical trials on the continent by bringing together global vaccine developers, funders, and local facilitators for clinical trials,” the statement read in part.

“This work will be vital to ensure the most promising vaccine candidates for the African population are identified and scaled up.”

A statement from the African Union (AU) said Nkengasong thanked the bloc’s hierarchy for their “unwavering support” for the Africa CDC and their leadership in the continent’s COVID-19 response.

He, however, also took the opportunity to warn that the fight against the disease was far from over and appealed for continued strong partnerships, solidarity and unity of purpose among member states.

“We are fighting a war, a war that we have to win as a continent. This is the moment for Africa to come together, coordinate and cooperate in order to survive,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nigerian Hauwa Ojeifo won the Bill & Melinda Gates Goalkeepers award as the Global Changemaker of the Year 2020.

Ojeifo is a sexual and domestic abuse survivor and the founder of She Writes Woman, a women-led movement giving the issue of mental health a voice in Nigeria.

“She Writes Woman is providing mental health support through a helpline, teletherapy and virtual support groups serving as a first point of contact to ensure that survivors of gender-based violence and those living with mental health conditions have access to confidential psychosocial support and counseling,” the Foundation said.

Ojeifo is also the first woman and person to testify before the Nigerian parliament on the rights of persons with mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities in the country’s bid to pass its first mental health law.

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