Information is a vital resource during an emergency. Yet, COVID-19 is sparking significant fear and misinformation across the world. To promote access to reliable evidence and information, local experts must be ready, available and prepared to speak credibly in ways that resonate locally. Currently, significant misinformation around the research and development of new tools, from vaccines and therapeutics to diagnostics and disease surveillance, is hampering the ability for Africa to proactively shape its research agenda. Moreover, misinformation could slow the development and delivery of innovation – impeding clinical trial recruitment and the acceptability and uptake of new tools and measures to prevent, treat and diagnose diseases that hamper the development of our continent.
The COVID-19 crisis has continued this trend, at a time when it’s vital for local experts to be providing sound, factual information to help people interpret data and guidance, understand risks and appropriately respond to their local context. From public health to scientific research to the economy, there is a great deal of misinformation and speculation being spread via traditional and social media.
However, innovations in medical research over recent years have led to incredible achievements for public health in Africa. The African Voices of Science initiative aims to provide a platform for trusted African science leaders and health experts to share reliable information with African populations. Covering topics ranging from COVID-19 vaccine trials, to emerging new research in infectious diseases, we need to hear from credible voices, their perspectives and potential solutions to our health concerns.
Speak Up Africa is committed to promoting research and development (R&D) and encouraging scientific innovations as part of public discourse in Africa.
Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck
Former Health Minister for Senegal & Former Director of RBM Partnership to End Malaria
Awa Marie Coll-Seck studied Medicine at the University of Dakar, Senegal, and earned her Msc qualification at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal. Her expertise lies in infectious diseases, above all malaria, measles, meningitis, tetanus, typhoid, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular diseases. She has published over 150 scientific articles, including:
• Scielo Public Health, 2001. International response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic: planning for success. Assessment of what more needs to be done to tackle HIV/AIDS since the UN General Assembly Special Session on Aids 2001.
• BMJ, 1995. Non-specific beneficial effect of measles immunisation: analysis of mortality studies from developing countries. Discovered that standard titre measles vaccine is beneficial but unrelated to protection against measles.
Awa Marie Coll-Seck also has a notable wider presence, receiving the ‘Best Minister’ award at World Government Summit, 2017, and writing an influential report for The Lancet on the values and mission of WHO.