AMREF officially launched its programme in West Africa on June 20, 2012 at a ceremony held at the Ngor Dariama Hotel in Dakar, Senegal. The launch was attended by representatives from government, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and the media.
AMREF Director General Dr Teguest Guerma assured stakeholders that though AMREF is not well known in West Africa, it works in more than 30 African countries and has 12 offices in Europe and North America. AMREF’s office in Senegal, she said, will be the hub for activities in the West African region. She thanked AMREF offices, particularly France and Spain, for financial support that made AMREF West Africa a reality.
Dr Guerma emphasised the importance of communities to AMREF’s work. “Communities are at the heart of our programmes. They are the change agents while AMREF is the catalyst,” she explained. She highlighted AMREF’s international ‘Stand up for African Mothers’ campaign, and urged everyone in attendance to sign the online petition at www.standupforafricanmothers.com in support of Ugandan midwife Esther Madudu’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. She also encouraged them to donate at least one dollar each towards the training of 15,000 midwives, some of whom will be from West Africa. “Africans should find their own solutions to their health problems. I urge all Africans to contribute towards this cause.”
Prof Souleymane Mboup, a renowned Senegalese scientist and health professor, thanked the International AMREF board for nominating him as the AMREF West Africa Consultative Chair. “I am happy to be involved with an International African organisation that strives to find African solutions to African problems,” he said. He commended AMREF for choosing to work in hard-to-reach areas, thereby lightening the burden of marginalised populations.
AMREF West Africa Coordinator Dr Mor Ngom showcased the activities of the regional programme, including telemedicine, e-learning and outreach projects. Activities planned for the near future, he said, include roll-out of the programme to the rest of West Africa.
A significant highlight of the event was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by AMREF Director General Dr Guerma and West African Health Organisation Director General Dr Placido Cardoso, giving AMREF the go-ahead to roll out programmes to the rest of West Africa.
Other AMREF representatives at the function were Mette Kjaer, Head of Programme Management and Muriel Gavila AMREF France CEO.