The Presidential Coordinator for Ghana’s COVID-19 Response, Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, has stated that future leaders require innovation capabilities that foster partnerships among government, business, academia, civil society and other sectors, along with other skills, in order to be better able to address more complicated challenges associated with providing health care in today’s world. He spoke on the topic: “The nexus of politics, power, people and partnerships in promoting good health”.
Dr. Asamoa-Baah, who was also Deputy Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) from 2007 to 2017, the first Ghanaian to ever occupy that position, was Guest Speaker at the 5th lecture in the annual Leadership Lecture Series instituted in Memory of Professor John Evans Atta Mills, at the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho on April 16.
Professor Mills was the President of the Republic of Ghana from 7 January 2009 until his passing on 24 July 2012, and the University was established during his term in office.
Dr. Asamoa-Baah focused his lecture on four skill areas that future leaders, including health professionals and scientists, require if they are to make meaningful impact in promoting good health.
The first of these is to be grounded firmly in the biomedical sciences, anchored on timely and accurate data. This is because the world is driven by quality data, and most challenges require data to resolve. The second requirement is to be grounded in the behavioural sciences, which would cause decision-makers to be less judgemental and more appreciative of why people do what they do.
Dr. Asamoa-Baah also proposed that future leaders should have good understanding of the interplay between politics and health because health is political to the extent that it has to do with poverty, access to water, education and other resources, which the politician plays a role in resolving. He stressed that politics should not only be seen as "government", but also as having everything to do with policy that could change health delivery. Finally, he said “it is impossible to have advances in healthcare without innovation, and there can be no innovation without collaboration” among various sectors.
According to Vice Chancellor Professor John O. Gyapong, the lecture was instituted to “acknowledge the work of Professor Mills, celebrate him and protect his legacy. It is also to instil leadership skills in students, creating an avenue for intellectual discourse” and to honour the late President for his role in establishing the University of Health and Allied Sciences.