Virchow Prize endowment of €500,000 fuels impact in Cameroon | AFENET project report



The Virchow Prize for Global Health, a prestigious international award recognising outstanding contributions to global health, proves its impact both on and off the stage. The inaugural laureate and prominent figure in global health, John Nkengasong, made the remarkable decision in November 2022 to dedicate the entire prize endowment of €500,000 to the non-profit African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) in Cameroon. This donation has been transformative in rural areas of Cameroon, exemplifying the true spirit of the award.

Executive Summary of the Virchow Prize Endowment

The “Empowering Vulnerable and Displaced Populations in Cameroon through the Virchow Prize Donation of 500,000 Euros (EVDP)” project was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Cameroon, covering the period from April to November 2023. The project empowered vulnerable and displaced adolescent girls and boys, as well as young women and men in the conflict-stricken Northwest and Southwest regions. Focusing on three main objectives:

  • Strengthening educational and economic empowerment
  • Strengthening the community healthcare workforce
  • Enhancing sexual and reproductive health

This project made tangible improvements in access to education and vocational skills contributing to the overall well-being and prospects of the beneficiaries.

In conclusion, the EVDP made significant strides in addressing the multifaceted challenges faced by internally displaced populations. 

Download the AFENET report or view the condensed version.

Key achievements of the project in numbers

Creating a ripple effect of hope and progress

John Nkengasong has been instrumental in shaping Africa’s response to infectious diseases, particularly during his tenure as the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). Nkengasong’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic was widely acclaimed, as he coordinated continent-wide efforts to manage and mitigate the crisis.

Currently, 2022 Virchow Prize Laureate leads as Senior Bureau Official for Global Health Security and Diplomacy the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy (GHSD) which he launched with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken in August 2023. Ambassador Nkengasong leads the U.S. diplomatic engagement, leverages and helps coordinate U.S. foreign assistance and promotes international cooperation at the national, regional, and multilateral levels to better protect the United States and the world from health threats.

Dr John Nkengasong’s decision to donate the entire endowment to AFENET exemplifies how individual acts of generosity can have far-reaching impact. The benefits seen in Cameroon are a testament to the potential of strategic investments in global health. The act has not only strengthened  the region’s health infrastructure but has also inspired a sense of hope and collective responsibility.

As the Virchow Prize for Global Health continues to recognise and support pioneers in global health, John Nkengasong and his donation to AFENET serve as a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness of global health efforts. By channeling resources where they are most needed, fostering collaboration and innovation, together we can build a healthier, more resilient and equitable world.