30 Jun 2016
A Speech By The US Deputy Chief Of Missions H.E Mathieu Smith On The Occasion Of The Send Forth Party For Dr. Omotayo Bolu, CDC Country Director On June 21, 2016 In Yaounde- Cameroon.
I want to thank our host, CBC Health Board which is a very special organization. We just had our COP experience. What I was able to say on our COP experience is that we have the best partners in the world. What makes them the best partners in the world is that they were serious about HIV and AIDS before PEPFAR arrived and they are going to be serious about HIV and AIDS until HIV and AIDS are a memory. We are not creating new capacity, we are augmenting new capacity. One of my first and most formal of experiences in working with Dr. Bolu was when she brought me to CBC Health Services in Bamenda and I was able to see first-hand the incredibly passionate work that people do there. When I saw this women whose job it was to tell mothers that they are HIV positive; that their children need to be treated and they need to be treated; and who went about this work every day; I said to myself, this is God’s work; and it is beautiful, hard and courageous and I am so blessed to be in their presence. I thank Dr. Bolu for letting me experience that and I thank our host for doing that work every day.
To Dr. Bolu
It is an honor to be here not just to celebrate her farewell from Cameroon for a new assignment in Nigeria, and not just to celebrate the USA fast increasing support for Cameroon’s health sector which rose from 48 million dollars of annual assistance last year to slightly exceed a hundred million dollar in the coming year. We celebrate each other’s company which exemplifies the ascending ties of friendship and real cooperation between our nations. Right now, the relationship between the United States and Cameroon is closer than it has ever been before. Although we have all known that this day would come when we have to say good bye to one of our own, it remains difficult, especially when the person has touched so many lives in so many different ways and more importantly when her work has earned the trust and confidence of our Cameroonian partners. As a true health diplomat, Dr. Bolu has championed health for all Cameroonians through effective US inter-agency collaboration and strategic multi and bilateral international and local partnerships. Through her service, Dr. Bolu has personally conveyed along with her team, the US commitment to promote health programs around the world and here in Cameroon. She oversaw, in fact, the largest expansion in the health assistance programs in the history of our bilateral relations. As a tireless leader for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, she worked effectively with the ministry of health and its various implementing partners to move the HIV agenda from a solely Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission program, to a robust comprehensive family centered and key populations focused program. Some critical mile stones were exciting in which she played a critical role. The recent press release from UNAIDS and PEPFAR in which Cameroon was cited as one of 6 countries which has provided antiretroviral medicines to more than 80% of pregnant women living with HIV. The recent approval of Cameroon’s 2016 Country Operational Plan which demonstrated that Cameroon is successfully pivoting its HIV program to focus on the right places, for the right populations, with the right interventions and at the right time – which is now. Finally, during the most recent PEPFAR reviews of HIV Country Operational Plans, Cameroon was repeatedly cited as the shining example of a Country working hard to ensure that it reaches the 90 – 90 – 90 goals through innovative intervention that is inclusive of civil society; led by a strong ministry of health. Again, our world class partners make all the difference in our credibility- Thank you!
The professionals who work at the ministry of health could rightfully be proud of their service to their country and the US shares with you the understanding that much more must be done to strengthen Cameroon’s health sector to better serve all citizens. This is a journey we are committed to embark upon together as our deeds and real partnership programs prove. As a global health security agenda advocate, Dr. Bolu helped to lead the initial dialogue between the US inter-agency team with the government of Cameroon across multiple sectors and Ministries. In just over one year, and with US support, Cameroon is well on its way to achieving its five year roadmap. This is something to be immensely proud of as the following example demonstrates. Cameroon has conducted several trainings and simulations and activated the Emergency Operation Centre in 24 hours to track and respond to the current avian flu outbreak. Cameroon has begun developing a necessary backbone for a National Public Health Laboratory Institute that can effectively change the laboratory landscape, not just for Cameroon but for the entire region. Cameroon is working to ensure a well-trained and robust health sector working to respond to all public health threats and potential emergencies, should they occur.
As a public health adviser and manager, Dr. Bolu has provided technical advice and assistance on a wide range of health conditions ranging from polio eradication to maternal mortality. She played a key role in negotiating and coordinating a remarkable and successful transfer of the entire CDC office from Mutengene where it primarily focused on lab activities to a CDC Global Health Office in Yaounde; that is the envy of the region. Her relentless drive and energy has kept the CDC office productively and actively engaged on a series of activities. She has also ensured that under her guidance and directives, her CDC staff bloomed professionally in different areas earning her the nick name “Hot-Red”. The ambassador and I are very proud of Dr. Bolu’s contributions during her four years of service in Cameroon. I have no doubt that the government and people of Cameroon are also proud of the results that she delivered which are promoting better health to all Cameroonians. As she hands over the responsibility of CDC Cameroon to Dr. Edgar Monterroso, we bid her farewell and bid him welcome with high expectations to build on the successes of his predecessor and his new team. We wish her continuous success and thank you for your partnership. We are so grateful.
Dr. Bolu and I partnered very well. And the National Security Council who has focused on these initiatives is so confident in what we have done together– that now Cameroon is what we call “the flavor of the moment”. This is because of Dr. Bolu and her team’s outstanding work. She has had a fantastic team supporting her. I could not do this without her; they have done great work. As a result, we have attracted the President’s Malaria Initiative, the Dreams Program for empowering girl’s health, and quite possibly the largest increase in PEPFAR percentage wise. Dr. Bolu, we are going to miss you!
HE Mathieu Smith
Deputy Chief of Missions
United States Embassy