“He is a very strong public health leader with many years of experience and would bring great connectivity to African leaders and community partners,” said Dr Chris Beyrer, professor of public health and human rights at Johns. Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. . (Dr Beyrer was on a shortlist of candidates for the post.)
PEPFAR, the largest public health program in the United States, was launched in 2003 by President George W. Bush. Since its launch, the U.S. government has invested more than $ 85 billion in more than 50 countries, saving an estimated 20 million lives.
The funds distributed by the program are used to support prevention programs, testing and antiretroviral therapy for HIV Some managers have been tough in setting priorities for African countries, so a leader like Dr Nkengasong who knows and African confidence is a welcome change, experts said.
“To have someone who is a known figure in the United States and the world, and in Africa, is a sign that they are taking this seriously – that they understand that it is really important to strengthen African leadership.” said Gregg Gonsalves, a longtime HIV activist and epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health.
Cameroon, the country of birth of Dr Nkengasong, has a high prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis. And he expressed support for training local scientists and doctors to lead public health and research on the continent. In 2011, he contributed to the creation of the African Society of Laboratory Medicine.
Dr Nkengasong was knighted in November 2018 by the government of Cameroon for his contributions to public health. He is, among others, an advisor to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. For his leadership in the Covid-19 pandemic, he was included in Time magazine’s 2021 list of the 100 most influential people.
The only downside to Dr Nkengasong’s main PEPFAR is that it is also needed to tackle other infectious disease control efforts in Africa, Mr Gonsalves said: “It’s a loss for Africa CDC”