on Thursday, 02 April 2020.

Dear Colleagues,

In the wake of COVID-19 control effort, here is an insightful contribution by Dr David Okello.

“This is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma. Facts, not fear. Even though the situation has been classified as a pandemic, it is one we can control...” --UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

With the COVID-19 infections now confirmed in African countries, governments have put in place various measures to contain the spread of the outbreak. These measures include screening of suspected cases, contact tracing, public education on hand washing and avoiding touching the face, isolation of confirmed cases, and physical distancing – closure of schools and large public gatherings and complete lockdown of movement of people including curfews. All these measures are normal public health procedures used in disease outbreak control.

As time passes, it has become clear that the ramifications of COVID-19 go well beyond the realms of the health sector. The lockdown of business activities and confining people in their homes is having major social, psychological and economic ramifications. Already, Africa is watching a potential health disaster quickly turn into an economic and social crisis.


on Friday, 27 March 2020.

Dear Colleagues,

In these trying times let us share thoughts on strategies that can help us get over the COVID -19 pandemic. We start with a challenging quotation:

"Gentlemen, it is the microbes who will have the last word".
This quotation is attributed to the French microbiologist Louis Pasteur. How soon this will happen depends on how when we humans recognize and seriously respond to this threat from viruses and bacteria.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents yet another challenge and opportunity following upon Ebola, SARS, and MERS. It is also a loud call for the world to relearn and hopefully to remember once again that infectious diseases are a grossly neglected dimension of global security. In 2016, I was a member of an independent Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future that published a report titled; The Neglected Dimension of Global Security: A Framework to Counter Infectious Disease Crises. This Commission recommended three strategies namely:


on Friday, 02 August 2019.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is our discussion topic for August, 2019. It is inspired by the outcome of a recent Consultation.

The opportunity presented by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) once again place Africa at the crossroads as was the case 60 years ago when we gained independence from colonialism. Africa may either grasp and run with the opportunity offered by the SDGs or waste it. This was the subject of a three day meeting that took place in Kampala, Uganda 16 – 18 July, 2019; under the theme “Governance for Health in Africa; Lessons learnt since independence to inform the future”.

The current huge gap in health and other development indices between Africa and other regions of the world were noted as a matter for concern, pain and shame and some participants were deeply moved and were seen crying and shedding tears! Why did Asian countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia that got independence at the same time and with similar indices develop much faster than African counterparts? Some of the causes of these disparities are known to be clearly wrong and intolerable but are accepted as “normal” and are allowed to persist when corrective actions are within reach. Why is this?


on Wednesday, 15 May 2019.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is another way of approaching Universal Health Coverage(UHC).

UHC that leaves no one behind is about humanity and social cohesion and not economics.

Let us start this discussion by asking some basic questions. What is the purpose and nature of human life? As species Homo sapiens we are by nature empathetic, social and capable of collaborating in mutually supportive ways for individual and common good. We are naturally saddened when we see human suffering and cheered when we witness human success. This is what has enabled us to communally learn together, develop new knowledge and use it collectively and cohesively to transform the natural environment to our advantage.

Yes, we also have in us negative non cohesive tendencies such as selfishness and greed, jealousy and aggression. There is therefore permanent interplay between the socially cohesive and the non-cohesive tendencies however; ultimately the mutually supportive common good tendencies predominate. This is the reason why we have collectively overcome the consequences of our negative tendencies such as ending wars that we start; ending slavery, colonialism, apartheid and controlling pandemics. Indeed negotiating and adopting the SDGs is an example of the success of our cohesive tendencies. How is this interplay between our cohesive and negative tendencies currently impacting the achievement of UHC?


on Friday, 15 February 2019.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is a topic worth our attention and discussion.

I have been inspired to post this piece following recent social media conversations on this topic of inter-professional harmony and cohesion in the health sector. As you know, the Health Workforce is made up of different health professions who at best work in inseparable interdependent teams in which each profession has defined roles which reciprocally support and complement each other in delivering health services to individuals and communities. The four dimensions of health workforce performance; namely, availability, competence, responsiveness and productivity are all enhanced when there is team work, harmony and cohesion within and between the health professions in health service planning and delivery.

Yet we are also aware that there is what was described as “Tribalism of the professions i.e. the tendency of the various professions to act in isolation from or even competition with each other” by the Lancet Commission on Health Professional for a New Century. We also know of harmful intra-professional conflicts. Our priority must be to focus our efforts in detribalizing the health professions and promoting intra and trans-professional harmony in order to serve the people and not the professions or individuals. How can this be achieved?