July 9, 2015 Macau, China – SLENA
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah, was one of only two Ministers of Health to be invited to the launch and the first meeting of the World Medicine Summit in Macau, China. The purpose of the summit was to improve prevention and therapy of human diseases through dialogue between health ministries, academic institutions, leading medical publishers, and medical charities and foundations.
The minister joined distinguished guests at the prime of their careers, including Nobel Laureates in the field of medicine like Ada Yonath from Israel, Nobel Laureate 2009; Robin Warren from Australia, Nobel Laureate 2005; Aaron Ciechanover from Israel, Nobel Laureate 2004; and Erwin Neher from Germany, Nobel Laureate 1991. Also in attendance was Carl-Henrik Heldin, chair of the board of the Nobel foundation.
Dr. Fofanah presented on the lessons learned from the West African Ebola Virus Disease, sharing specific experiences from Sierra Leone. The meeting was interested in learning lessons from West Africa’s response to the EVD outbreak and how those lessons could be applied to manage the current Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) epidemic.
The minister informed the audience that most of the shortcomings of the response were related to a weak health system.
Sierra Leone received a lot of support from the international community to fight the EVD. In as much as the support was Ebola response-specific, the government is now working with partners to leverage on some of these resources for the country to build a strong and resilient health system so that never again the world would witness such a human tragedy.
In recognition of his leadership in the fight against Ebola and leading the health sector recovery for Sierra Leone, as well as his outstanding performance at the summit in bringing to the fore major issues and challenges associated with combating a highly communicable disease like Ebola in a resource constraint society, Dr. Fofanah was nominated and unanimously approved as founding Co-Chair of the World Medicine Summit. Being Co-Chair means Dr. Fofanah will be engaging very closely with the Founding Chair and President of the World Medicine Summit, Dr. Shuiping Jiang, in defining the strategic direction for the Summit, starting with immediately influencing the thinking around the theme and planning for the subsequent World Medicine Summit, the second following the establishment and successful launch of the Summit on 7 July 2015.
In accepting the nomination, Dr. Fofanah dedicated the prestigious role to the fallen heroes who died of Ebola in Sierra Leone (both health workers and the general population). “I am deeply humbled and honoured to have been selected to lead the World Medicine Summit. This truly is for the people of Sierra Leone and I dedicate this recognition to my fallen colleagues who died of Ebola. They sacrificed themselves so that the rest of us may live. We also lost a lot of brothers and sisters to Ebola; I pay tribute to you all.”
In his humble gestures, he bowed to the audience thanking them and vowing to work with them over the coming years to define strategy for the World Medicine Summit.
The Summit is poised to be the forum where top leaders and established medical professionals engage on Global Medicine.