Live From Munich: Dr. John Nkengasong “The Concepts are Global, But the Practice is Local”

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Dr. Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC and soon to be head of PEPFAR joined us for this 123rd episode, and the first episode of our Live From Munich mini-series, a collection of episodes recorded at the Munich Security Conference. He is a leader in the initiative to incorporate global health in security discussions like the Munich Security Conference. “We have seen how an outbreak of a disease can truly be a health security matter, and also human security, as well as even going as far as a national security threat.” The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us “the need for us to look at the security from a human perspective”, that “we are more connected as humanity”, and “the inequalities that we thought existed are more profound within countries between countries and between regions than we thought”. As North America and Europe begin this murky transition to the next stage of the pandemic, Dr. Nkengasong is concerned that we will “begin to refer to COVID as a disease that will soon be over in the US. And then of course, because of that, it becomes one of the neglected tropical diseases where we now have to rely on foundations or charity to take care of.” He recently called for a pause in vaccine donations: “we're saying that we have a lot of vaccines in the country. Now our problem is vaccination”. “I'm a big believer in that we should always pause to evaluate where we are in response, and then make corrective actions”. How will Africa overcome its major challenge of vaccine hesitancy? “I think every good public health practice as you and I know is local. The concepts are global, but in practice is local, which means Africa must take its own socio-cultural context and deal with it and then find the touchpoints”

Dr. John Nkengasong is the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and has been nominated by President Biden to be the next head of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator in charge of PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.