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General News Sat, 2 May 2009

Prof. Sai donates award to Legon

PROF. FRED SAI DONATES FAMILY HEALTH INTERNATIONAL (FHI) AWARD TO THE UNIVERSITY OF GHANA

On Thursday 23rd April 2009, Prof. Fred Torgbor Sai was honored by Family Health International (FHI) for his global leadership in health, particularly for his immense contributions as an advocate for nutrition, maternal health, reproductive health and family planning in the development of comprehensive health care in Ghana and Africa. Family Health International (FHI) is a Non-Governmental Organization which focuses on family health matters worldwide with a major interest in Africa. FHI holds a special place of honor in the field of family health issues as both a research and a service organization, especially for the role it has played in African development in the last forty (40) years.


The lecture and award ceremony held at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra saw an impressive turnout of a cross section of Ghanaians, who were present in honor of one of their own.


A medical doctor by profession, Prof. Fred Sai served as the Chairman of the National Population Council of Ghana from 1992 to 1997. He was the President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and also a senior Population Advisor at the World Bank from 1985 to 1990. Prof. Sai has served on the board of Directors of FHI for eleven years helping shape the Organization’s policies and interventions to meet the reproductive health needs of many communities in developing countries around the world including Ghana and the rest of Africa. Special effort has gone into family planning and HIV/AIDS


Throughout his professional life, he has stressed the need for Africans to work towards improving health on the continent stating that, “Africa must dream of the impossible and begin taking actions to propel its own growth and development.” Prof. Sai noted that as a member of the team which produced Ghana’s world acclaimed family planning policy in 1969 he was saddened and even ashamed of the poor progress the country has made in its fertility management programmes. He attributed this to absence or very low political, technical and administrative leadership. He emphasized the need to pursue policies and programmes which will ensure more holistic and realistic health and reproductive services for all Ghanaians and Africans.

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Dr. Alfred Siemens, Chief Executive and Chairman of the FHI Board opened the proceedings by stating the purpose of the function and spoke warmly of Prof Sai’s international contributions. He then introduced the main speaker for the evening as Dr. Ward Cates FHI’s President of Research who electrified the audience with a presentation on “The Future of International Family Planning” and then ended by paying a tribute to Prof. Sai.


Dr. Ward Cates in his tribute, stated that Prof. Sai, the former Presidential Advisor on HIV/AIDS, Population and Reproductive Health issues under the NPP Government, was being honored for his advocacy of laws to enhance gender equity and equality, to protect women from unsafe abortion, and also for the provision of better maternal health services across the world and especially on the African continent. In other tributes read by Dr. Peter Lamptey, Dr. Halida Akhter, on behalf of Population Action International and Family Care International, by Dr. Pramilla Senanayake on behalf of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and by Prof Gilford Ashitey of the University of Ghana Medical School, Prof. Sai was commended for assisting to demystify contraceptive services and also encouraging community based distribution of contraceptives. For many, both on the dais and in the audience he had been a mentor and a constant source of inspiration in their respective careers. Prof. Sai was presented with a crystal plaque and a cheque in recognition of his tireless efforts in helping to raise the health standards in Ghana and the rest of Africa. Prof. Sai thanked the Board of FHI for the honor done him. He was grateful to Government for instituting the free maternal health service policy stating that this should not be taken as a license to procreate without planning. Rather, it should be seen as government’s wish to help mitigate the load of replenishing our human resource base for families and which should mean we all had a duty to help by reducing the rate at which more Ghanaians were brought to the national development table. In receiving his award, Prof. Fred Sai expressed his appreciation to his family, colleagues and all who had in diverse ways helped to improve upon the health industry, and proceeded to donate the cheque to the Fred and Florence Sai Scholarship scheme of which he is a founder. The scheme, which presently has seed money of over one hundred and thirty-five thousand (GH¢ 135,000) Ghana cedis, was established to lend financial support to deserving female students who are studying science at the University of Ghana and has benefited over seventy (70) young women since its inception. It is presently supporting seventeen (17) female students of the school.


The donation was received by Professor Ahulu, acting vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana on its behalf. Also present was Mr. T. Konu, the Registrar, who congratulated Prof. Sai and expressed the university’s appreciation to the Sai family for their continued support for the university in the past years. In his speech, Mr. Konu called on all Ghanaians and Africans to lend their support in achieving high standards in the health industry across Africa.


Prof. Sai endorsed the call made by Dr. Ward Cates, in encouraging all and sundry to be advocates for family planning as a health issue and as a fundamental human right.

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