Under the medical services category , Prof Francis Gervase Omaswa, the Founder and Executive Director of the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) received his Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize on the margins of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7).
The Prize, aims to honor individuals or organizations with outstanding achievements in the fields of medical research and medical services to combat infectious and other diseases in Africa, thus contributing to the health and welfare of the African people and of all humankind.
Japan’s Prime Minister Mr. Shinzō Abe made a final decision of the laureates from the recommendation by the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Committee.
The Prize is composed of a citation, a medal and an honorarium of 100 million yen (about Ugx. 3.6 billion ). The honorarium is disbursed from the Government of Japan.
The Prize was established as a Cabinet Decision of the Government of Japan in July 28, 2006.
Who is Prof. Omwasa ?
Born in in 1943, Dr. Francis Gervase Omaswa the Current Executive Director of African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) Obtained MBChB at Makerere Medical School, and Master of Medicine in Surgery at Makerere University.
He gave up practicing heart surgery in London to return to Africa starting with the Republic of Kenya and then the Republic of Uganda, building clinical and surgical capacities in his home continent and country.
Over the three decades since, Dr. Omaswa has become a world leader in development of international systems for the support, training and efficient utilization of health workforces particularly on the African continent. He led the drafting and convening the First Global Forum on HWF and inspiring the adoption of the Kampala Declaration and Agenda for Global Action that now guides the global response.
He has brought wisdom to the global stage, serving on the boards of Global Stop TB Partnership, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Independent Review Committee of GAVI – the Vaccine Alliance and as founder and Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance. Today he leads multiple efforts aimed at creating health systems and workforces that can propel Africa towards realization of the “Health for All” aspirations of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Continental and global impact.
He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburg, U.K. within a decade, only to return and serve his native land and help develop other leaders on the continent. After producing world class results in open heart surgery in Kenya he and his Anesthesiologist wife Dr. Catherine Omaswa in a selfless pro-poor move took their young family to work in a remote rural Ngora hospital in Uganda to demonstrate how to provide cost effective quality health care to rural populations for five years.
Lessons from this experience sharpened his commitment to people centered health care and some are in use in the region. This led him to launch the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) as founding President that trains specialists outside capital cities which is now the largest professional surgical college in Africa.
He then returned to Makerere University, and founded the Uganda Heart Institute. He was Director General of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Uganda, during a crucial period in the fight against AIDS.
This was the time when Uganda was leading on both the prevention and treatment frontiers with recognition of vanguard institutions such as The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) and the Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC). Less well known but perhaps even more important are the pioneering systems strengthening reforms Dr. Omaswa led in his Director General capacity related to decentralization, community health teams, abolition of user-fees, and sector-wide approaches.
Dr. Omaswa was Donor Coordinator in the Health Sector at the time the U.S. launched the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which made Uganda its largest recipient; he also became Chair of the Portfolio and Procurement Committee of the newly established Global Fund, and Chair of the Independent Review Board of GAVI. Inspired by leadership from President Museveni, the prevalence of HIV infection was cut to one third and Uganda became a role model for many other countries; under-five child mortality rates were also cut by half and continue to decline.
And the strong primary health system he helped develop has been reducing the number, size and impact of hemorrhagic fever outbreaks due to Ebola and most recently Marburg viruses. Indeed, Uganda’s depth of expertise and experience in managing the front lines of pandemics was visible first hand in the mobilization of personnel from Uganda to assist in the Ebola crisis that gripped West Africa in 2014/2015. Dr. Omaswa’s contribution to these health services accomplishments is primarily through his extraordinary ability as a teacher, mentor, colleague and friend who nurtures leadership potential everywhere he goes.
His leadership has extended into the global health arena on multiple fronts to advance the health of Africans and people all over the world.
He was a key contributor to the development of the very successful Global Stop TB Partnership and was elected as the founding Chair of the STB Coordinating Board in 2001. He was one of the architects of the Global Fund to Fight Aids TB and Malaria (GFATM) and served as the Chair of its Portfolio Management and Procurement Committee.
In 2005, WHO Director General, JW Lee, invited Dr. Omaswa to serve as a Special Advisor with a special focus on the health workforce. Alongside the development the World Health Report 2006 on Human Resources for Health (HRH),
Dr. Omaswa coordinated the consultations and strategic planning that led to the creation of the Global Health Workforce Alliance of which he became the founding Executive Director. In this role, he convened the first ever Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in Kampala, March 2008. With Africa accounting for more than half the countries with critical health worker shortages,
Dr. Omaswa brought unmatched experience and commitment to drive the global agenda in this crucial component of health systems. He drafted and steered the Forum to adopt the Kampala Declaration and Agenda for Global Action that now guides the global community in responding to the global crisis in human resources for health.
Dr. Omaswa returned to Africa from Geneva but he would not think about retirement while more lives could be saved in the continent. He became Chancellor of Busitema University in Uganda and, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Dr. Omaswa created and has led ACHEST, the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation.
ACHEST has become a regional platform for much needed capacity building and policy guidance in Health Systems Strengthening, the African hub of the global THINK SDG and the Secretariat and Chair of the African Health Systems Governance Network which convenes over 30 institutions in Africa supporting Ministerial Leadership Capacity.