By Christopher Ambe
Professor Gottlieb L. Monekosso
Professor emeritus Gottlieb Lobe Monekosso, former Minister of Public Health and former Director for World Health Organization (WHO) for Africa, has been declared this year’s winner of the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Gold Medal by the Royal society of Public Health (RSPH).
Professor Monekosso received the prestigious award on Thursday in a grandiose ceremony that took place at the Royal Institute of the British Archtects, 66 Portland Place, in London.
The award, which is organized occasionally, is in recognition of his enormous efforts toward the promotion of health nationally and world-wide especially within the Common wealth of Nations
He was nominated by the Cameroon government for the award and after a thorough review of many other nominations from countries, the Awards Committee of the RSPH, chose Professor Monekosso as the Recipient of the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Gold Medal.
“This award is an acknowledgement of your outstanding contribution to public health in Cameroon and the staff of Cameroon High Commission joins me to extend to you our hearty congratulations on this important award”, noted Nkwelle Ekaney, Cameroon High Commissioner in London, in a letter to Professor Monekosso, which informed him about his selection as the 2012 recipient of the Queen’s gold medal.
The Royal Society for Public Health is an independent, multi-disciplinary charity organization, dedicated to the promotion and protection of collective human health and wellbeing, according to its website. The current Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is Professor Richard Parish.
Professor Monekosso is currently the president of Global Health Dialogue, an NGO headquartered in Buea-Cameroon. Global Health Dialogue, created in Buea in 1995, is aimed at promoting health and development through concrete actions.
Profile of Gottlieb Monekosso
Professor Monekosso obtained his primary and secondary education in Lagos, Nigeria and studied medicine at Guy's Hospital Medical School of the University of London, England (1948-53). He then went to London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and after house appointments at Guy's Hospital went on to the then new University College of Ibadan. Following various appointments in East and West Africa and the West Indies he returned home to Cameroon to head the newly created University Centre for Health Sciences in Yaoundé which he led for a decade through to 1979.
From 1980-5 he was the World Health Organization representative in Jamaica with responsibility for the sub-region of the northern Commonwealth Carribean countries. He was then elected to the post of WHO Director for Africa, completing two five- year terms of office from 1985-95. During this period he was a member of the WHO executive management in Geneva and gave technical advice to 46 countries in Africa, the Organization for African Unity and UN Economic Commission for Africa.
He returned home in 1995 when he founded Global Health Dialogue, a foundation devoted to the health and welfare of young people with a headquarters in Buea and a conference centre in Kribi which he still runs. However in 1997 he was appointed Cameroons Minister for Public Health, a post he held until 2000.
Devoted to health ,Professor Monekosso has been active in clinical, laboratory and field research on endemic diseases especially tropical neuropathy; the adaptation of teaching programmes to community health needs; and the organization of healthcare delivery in university centres, district hospitals and at community level. He has taught a couple of generations of health professionals active in East, Western and Central Africa, has held several honorary positions around the world and has published a number of books and over 100 papers in scientific and health literature.
Retired but not tired, he continues to oversee the work of Global Health Dialogue and is currently engaged, among other projects, in advising the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the quality of medical teaching in Sub-Saharan Africa.
(First published in The Recorder Newspaper, Cameroon, of September 14, 2012)