On Thursday, Mar. 18, Devex will host a live conversation with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. John Nkengasong, presented by the Novartis Foundation.
This conversation, led by Sara Jerving, global health reporter for Devex, comes as African nations begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, while also grappling with new variants of the virus emerging across the continent.
As director of the key agency responding to the pandemic in Africa, along with the World Health Organization, Nkengasong has managed a series of seemingly impossible tasks over the past year. This includes launching a pandemic response with only two laboratories on the continent able to test for the virus and with African nations unable to buy reagents, despite having the funds, managing shortages of items such as personal protective equipment, and laying the groundwork for a massive vaccine rollout.
This exclusive conversation with Nkengasong will examine what’s next as the continent moves forward with the largest vaccination campaign in its history, examining the challenges that lie ahead.
Welcome & opening remarks with Racey Muchilwa, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Novartis
Live interview with Dr. John Nkengasong
-Moderator: Sara Jerving, global health reporter, Devex
Dr John Nkengasong currently serves as the first Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). He is a leading virologist with nearly 30 years of work experience in public health. Prior to his appointment with Africa CDC, he was the Deputy Principal Director (acting) of the Centre for Global Health at the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and Associate Director of Laboratory Science and Chief of the International Laboratory Branch at the Division of Global HIV/AIDS and TB. Earlier in his career (1993 to 1995), Dr Nkengasong worked as Chief of Virology Laboratory at the Collaborating Centre on HIV Diagnostics at the Department of Microbiology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium and later joined US CDC in 1994 as Chief of the Virology Laboratory in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Racey Muchilwa is the Head of Novartis Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), leading 47 countries. Since becoming the SSA Head in 2019, she has led a strategic business transformation, albeit during the COVID-19 pandemic, to integrate three major business divisions under one leadership and navigate a new strategic direction that focuses on patient reach, besides the traditional business metrics such as sales. SSA is home to one of the world’s largest underserved populations, hence the bold aspiration to accelerate access to healthcare and high-quality medicines to over 1B people in the region.
Sara Jerving is a global health reporter at Devex. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vice News, Bloomberg, The Nation magazine, among others. Sara holds a master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she was a Lorana Sullivan fellow.