Friday, January 4, 2013

NextGenVoices: Using Science to address the biggest challenge of my country


Science 4 January 2013:
Vol. 339 no. 6115 pp. 30-32
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6115.30


If you had just been elected to your nation's highest office, what would you say in your inaugural address? What is the greatest challenge facing your country, and how would you use science to address it? 

The biggest challenge facing Ghana is the high incidence of infectious diseases. My first action as President of Ghana will be to elevate the Health Ministry to the level of the Ghana Armed Forces. In Ghana, all types of infectious pathogens, from Helminths to viruses, cause disease; this is compounded by the spread of multi-drug resistant strains. To combat infectious diseases, I will use a four-prong battle strategy. 1. Street-level: I will train a new kind of army of youth equipped with Public Health and Environmental Engineering expertise to identify and eliminate disease-causing conditions. 2. Town-level: I will organize a new kind of town councils with Army Captains as heads, with a specific mandate to source local material, local private funding, and local workforce to redesign towns. 3. Institutional-level: I will establish one world-class institution for research, development, and manufacturing to operate every phase of the health service value chain. 4. National-level: I will constitute a government of people (home and in the Diaspora) who are accomplished early- to mid-career research scientists, engineers, technologists, and military leaders who understand the concept of "leadership with empathy and sense of urgency." This system will eliminate the huge loss of productivity due to the high-level infectious disease burden and drastically reduce poverty and squalor in Ghana.

Department of Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology,
University of Ghana, Legon-Accra, Ghana. E-mail:

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