Future of African Health Series: In conversation with Dr Ebere Okereke

Spring Gombe
April 26, 2023

Spring Gombe

Spring is a Partner in the Public Affairs practice. She is a specialist in policy and advocacy on issues pertaining to access to health products.

This edition spotlights Dr. Ebere Okereke, Incoming CEO, Africa Public Health Foundation.

Dr. Okereke shares fundamental insights on the role of regional organizations in the future of global health. She further elaborates on opportunities to prioritize women in their roles as healthcare leaders, workers, as well as caretakers. In the“decolonization of systems,” as Dr. Okereke puts it, it is essential to deconstruct gender dynamics holding back communities.

Watch the full video below, and read a few highlights below from our conversation.

On gender imbalances in caretaking …

“There is a global issue around gender imbalance and misogyny, which is replicating in every ecosystem. Where the bottom of the pyramid is always staffed by women, usually women in the most, most deprived socioeconomic brackets ... There's a societal value around that which we need to define, when [care] work is unpaid.

[Caretakers] want to be valued. They want to be appreciated for the work they do.”

On the future of African public health…

“How things will look in five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years’ time is very much dependent on how much we leverage the learning from today, and continue building on the things that worked, and reflecting on things that didn't, and for things to change. Because if not, in thirty years’ time, it will be the same story.”

On public health as an ecosystem…

“We need the public health ecosystem, the broader health family professionals and allied professionals. The so-called ‘voluntary sector’ that contributes to the public health workforce, to actually leverage the experiences, and recognize that they need to work from the frontline and equip the frontline from the top of the pyramid to be able to work.”

On prioritizing investment for health development…

“We need our continental infrastructure from bodies like Africa CDC, the emerging AMA, or even one step removed immediately from health, our African development banks, to recognize that we can't talk development if we don't talk about investment in health.”

On decolonization…

“We need to decolonize our minds. …The people say to me, ‘Oh, this decolonization movement is philosophical.’ There's the decolonization of systems and global structure, but there's also some homework we need to do ourselves.”

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