Faith Osier of Kenya/Uganda is an immunologist working to make malaria history through effective vaccination. She is President of the International Union of Immunological Societies and #Togetherband Ambassador for United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good health and well-being. Faith is a 2018 TED Fellow and was nominated among the 2020 Top 100 Influential African Women.
We are all born with a desire to live, to prosper, to go further than the previous generation. My parents ensured that I did not face the indignities they have endured. They gave me the best education, protected me from disease and in so doing, empowered me to realise my highest dreams.
I am forever grateful. But many across Africa do not enjoy this privilege. We see killer infections (malaria, HIV, tuberculosis) and debilitating diseases stifle opportunities of a healthy life.
On top of that, for 420m people living below the poverty line, breaking out of the cycle is a Herculean task, in particular when national institutions cannot sustain these efforts for a critical mass of our population.
I see science as a key to turn what many consider to be our greatest weakness, into our greatest strength.
We have waited for others to define for us in contemporary terms what our illnesses were, and what we ought to do about them. Images of disease-ridden Africans make good features in the international media.
But there is another story emerging that deserves visibility too. Scientific endeavours are blooming all over Africa and centres of scientific excellence are turning their attention to capacity building.
See the success of the Mali International Center for Excellence in Research in detecting, treating and managing Ebola patients that enabled the country to be declared Ebola free in 2015.
In addition, the work of research centres such as the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the National Medical Research Institute of Tanzania, are increasing Africa’s output of scientific research and training future generations of African scientists.
I am the first African and second woman President of the International Union of Immunological Societies. I work to train 1,000 African PhD students in immunology over the next 10 years through the Federation of African Immunological Societies Legacy Project, and to increase Africa’s capacity and representation in global health.
I believe we can be the solutions our continent is yearning for and for that we need to believe in science made in Africa, and the health, wealth and prosperity this brings to the continent.