Olivia Ngou, Rahane Lawal et Richard Kojan sont les trois travailleurs de la santé qui ont reçu les prix REACH (Recognizing Excellence around Champions of Health) lors du forum Reaching the Last Mile organisé par la Fondation Bill et Melinda Gates & le Prince Héritier d’Abu Dhabi le 19 novembre 2019. Travaillant respectivement à la lutte contre le paludisme, la polio et le virus Ebola, ils ont été récompensés pour leur bravoure.


 « Je pense que l’élimination du paludisme ne sera possible que si les communautés locales et la Société Civile s’engagent pleinement et de manière significative, car ce sont elles qui sont en première ligne et qui sont présentes dans des zones que les systèmes de santé ne peuvent atteindre. Travailler avec elles permettra de sauver des vies mais aussi d’assurer une couverture universelle des interventions pour les communautés à risque ».

Olivia Ngou

Fondatrice et Directrice Exécutive de Impact Santé Afrique

Olivia Ngou est une spécialiste du plaidoyer pour mettre fin au paludisme dans son pays d’origine, le Cameroun, et dans le monde entier. Compétente et passionnée, ses efforts de plaidoyer consistent à engager un large éventail de parties prenantes, des étudiants aux parlementaires, à prendre conscience de l’importance de leur rôle dans l’élimination du paludisme et les inciter à agir.

Actuellement, elle est la coordinatrice générale de la Société civile pour l’Elimination du Paludisme (CS4ME), un réseau mondial d’Organisations de la Société Civile qui milite pour que les communautés soient au centre des efforts visant à éliminer le paludisme. Bien qu’il en soit à ses débuts, CS4ME s’avère être une plateforme efficace pour l’engagement et la formation des communautés.

Olivia est également membre de la Délégation des Communautés au Conseil d’Administration du Fonds Mondial et a précédemment travaillé comme Directeur National de Malaria No More Cameroun pendant 10 ans.

Les efforts d’Olivia pour accroître la volonté politique et les ressources nationales dans la lutte contre le paludisme ont contribué à ce que le Cameroun augmente son financement national pour le paludisme ces dernières années.  Âgée de 34 ans, Olivia Ngou est fréquemment sollicitée par le gouvernement du Cameroun pour participer à des groupes de travail techniques afin de faire avancer les politiques de santé universelle et les plans stratégiques nationaux pour lutter durablement contre le paludisme et d’autres problèmes de santé. Aujourd’hui, elle fournit une assistance technique à d’autres pays d’Afrique dans le cadre de programmes de lutte contre le paludisme.

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“Reaching the Last Mile: Kidnapped Unicef worker whose stepfather was murdered in front of her is honoured”


Par Daniel Sanderson

November 19, 2019

Olivia Ngou et Bill Gates

Olivia Ngou, Rahane Lawal and Dr Richard Kojan in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National

Three healthcare workers on the front lines of the world’s disease epidemics have been recognised for their commitment and bravery.

The trio were recipients of the Reach awards at the Reaching the Last Mile forum at Louvre Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Rahane Lawal, Richard Kojan and Olivia Ngou worked to tackle polio, Ebola and malaria, respectively – among the debilitating diseases the forum was set up to tackle by raising funds for research.

Ms Lawal, from Nigeria, saw her stepfather shot in front of her and was held hostage by bandits until her family paid a ransom, while Dr Kojan built special containment units to allow medics to safely treat Ebola patients at the height of the outbreak in the Congo.


Olivia Ngou, Rising Champion

When Olivia Ngou graduated from university in New York with a public health degree, she knew what she wanted to achieve.

While growing up in Cameroon she had malaria several times, including a serious case when she was a young girl.

So after working on combating the disease as a UN intern, she co-founded the Civil Society for Malaria Elimination, an NGO, in her home country. It brings together politicians, celebrities, charities, the media and others to focus on eliminating malaria.

Former Barcelona and Cameroon star Samuel Eto’o hugs a child during a visit to a Cameroonian school in March 2019. He had malaria as a child and lost friends to the disease – now he campaigns to raise vaccine awareness. Maja Hitij – Fifa / Getty

The organisation, which she leads, has help persuade to Cameroon government to increase funding for fight malaria.

“I realised it was possible to end the disease in this generation so I focused all of my work for the past 10 years on malaria advocacy,” Ms Ngou, 34, said.

One particular episode stands out in Ms Ngou’s mind – when she had a severe bout of malaria at age eight.

“Each person has a different reaction to that – for me it was hearing,” she said.

“It is a disease that is so common, people have it so many times, that there is a need to reinforce the message around the danger. It is the oldest and deadliest disease in human history”

“I would hear your voice 10,000 times louder [than usual] and I would tell everyone ‘stop screaming, stop screaming’ and nobody was screaming.”

She recovered, because her parents were able to pay for treatment, and she knows she is one of the lucky ones.

“It was a bizarre experience and everyone has a different experience,” she said.

“Unfortunately some people have a cerebral malaria and the damage is awful, and some people are also crippled, so it depends on how your body would react.”

Among the celebrities she has enlisted to help raise awareness are Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o, the footballers, Lady Ponce and Youssou N’Dour, the singers, while Richard Bona, the Cameroonian bassist, helped create an anti-malaria anthem.

“It was actually easy to get them to help because every single celebrity that had lived in Africa had malaria or knows someone who had malaria,” she said.

“For example, Samuel Eto’o has said ‘if I didn’t have treatment I wouldn’t be here – I wouldn’t have become one of the greatest players in the world.”

She remains concerned, however, that malaria is not being taken as seriously as conditions such as Ebola and HIV, despite it being responsible for far more deaths.

“One of our biggest challenges is to actually make people understand the real danger of malaria because it is a disease that is so common – people have it so many times – that there is a need to reinforce the message around the danger,” she said. “It is the oldest and deadliest disease in human history.”

Despite progress in Cameroon, there are still between 2,000 and 3,000 documented deaths from malaria per year, and the true total is likely to be higher. Ms Ngou is also concerned about growing resistance to treatments to malaria in South East Asia, as mosquitoes evolve. If this is repeated in Africa, it could be the “worst public health problem that we have seen,” she said, and makes tackling malaria even more urgent.

But funding in some countries has “stalled”, she said, as issues like global warming and security challenges suck up cash and attention.

“We don’t have time [because of] this resistance issue,” she said. “We have to make sure that we can quickly invest. We know if you invest in malaria you will see the result quickly, like we saw in the last 15 years.

“Malaria has been here for so long, do people even believe [it is possible] to eradicate it? They have to believe it is possible.”