The 28th annual Pumphandle Lecture was delivered on Thursday 10th September 2020, by Dr John Nkengasong, founding Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lecture was delivered remotely, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to a worldwide audience of more than 300 Society members and guests. The Speaker began by tracing the dramatic changes underway in Africa over recent years exemplified by expanding population, political commitments towards free trade and movement, and ambitious targets for economic growth by 2020 and 2063. Alongside these changes, the continent faces multiple health problems, including an increasing frequency of new and emerging infections, despite limited health institutions, workforce and budget. The Africa CDC was launched in 2017 to meet these challenges, and has set an ambitious goal of a “New Public Health Order”, involving
(1) the establishment and strengthening of continental and national public health institutions, (2) the development of a substantial public health workforce, (3) establishment of local manufacture of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, and (4) the development of publicprivate-philanthropic partnerships. Each of these goals was illustrated with impressive examples of accomplishments in recent years, including the creation of Regional Collaborating Centres in North, West, Central, East and Southern Africa, which have in turn made major contributions in the response to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The speaker answered a series of excellent questions from the remote audience, and the vote of thanks was proposed by Dr Dilys Morgan.
Removal of the pump handle is a tradition of the Society, and so, because of the remote delivery of the lecture, Dr Martin Muita constructed a replacement pump from waste materials especially for
the occasion. The Speaker was invited to remove its handle, which he effortlessly did, to close the proceedings
A recording of the lecture can be found here