FIND Goodwill Ambassador
Dr Aminata Touré
Dr Aminata Touré, President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council and former Prime Minister of Senegal, has joined FIND and ACT-A Dx as our Goodwill Ambassador, championing diagnostics and testing in low- and middle-income countries.
Aminata passionately believes that testing remains the first line of defence for the COVID-19 pandemic as testing is a human right. For Aminata, testing provides direct linkage to care and is key to determining whether an individual has COVID-19 or other infections, such as malaria or influenza. Identifying a disease early can bring a patient the right care and stop the spread of the disease.
The role of the community is paramount
Aminata adamantly believes in the paramount role of communities in the fight for testing. In Senegal, for example, there is an ethical dimension to how testing is perceived by local populations. Stigma around testing and a hesitancy to get tested has become a major impediment. A solution, according to Aminata, is to make information about testing available to everyone, so that people are reassured that testing is not harmful but protective and useful, especially in a pandemic situation.
Testing as a human right
Aminata believes that ethics committees of countries in Africa have to be involved into the policymaking and community engagement as testing is a human right. For Aminata, the information sharing and awareness raising about the values of testing cannot be managed in silos. Government departments have to work together with relevant committees to be responsive and transparent with their populations. It is important to listen to the voices of local community leaders, ethics committees and policy makers in those countries to pursue the right exit strategy for COVID-19.
The burden on the healthcare system
COVID-19 has added a greater burden to the health system, as many health resources that are needed for other diseases have been shifted to handle the virus. Diseases such as diabetes, where patients often need urgent medical care due to the high-level of associated complications, are no longer being supported by the once-available resources. Testing, she says, reinforces health system response to resource allocation, treatment, and monitoring.
A move to local manufacturing
Test manufacturing can be done regionally; for example, one country can produce tests for several countries within the same region, says Aminata. She believes that Africa has the resources to grow and reinforce health systems in each country and become self-reliant when confronted by pandemics and other health challenges.
Why decentralized testing is needed
For Aminata, decentralized testing is a very important strategy to ensure that testing is not only affordable but also accessible. In Senegal, for example, there are currently only two testing centres, making diagnosis costly and laborious. Aminata believes that for testing to be effective, it must be delivered increasingly by community-based health services that are near to patients.
Dr Aminata Touré served as the Prime Minister of Senegal from September 2013 to July 2014. Earlier, she served as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General from April 2012 to September 2013. Since May 2019, she serves as President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council of Senegal.
In these roles, she battled corruption and worked tirelessly to promote human rights. From 1996 to 2012, she worked with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in various roles including senior adviser in Burkina Faso, senior adviser in Cote d’Ivoire, senior adviser at the UNFPA Headquarters in New York, and as the Director of the Gender and Human Rights World Department.
She has directed more than 30 UNFPA worldwide publications. From 2002 to 2013, Mrs Touré also worked as the West Africa Program Manager on Gender and HIV and AIDS.
For the past 5 years, she has supported several democratic processes as Head of Observation mission for Presidential Elections in Mauritius, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Liberia, Guyana. She holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from Aix Marseille II University, MBA from University of Dijon Business School, and a PhD in International Business Administration and Finances from the International School of Management.