The hands of women are recently being stained in valuable scientific innovations which continues to proffer solution that aids the survival of man. Being in a field that require so much to keep the earth moving, women in STEM have been up to task delivering and meeting needs on every ground.
Amongst these numerous women that make up the Women in STEM hall of fame is the Senegalese scholar and scientist Awa Marie Coll Seck who was born on January 1, 1951 in Dakar, Senegal.
Dr. Coll Seck has been working in the field of health and disease prevention in her native country and internationally. After earning a degree in medicine from the University of Dakar in 1978, Dr. Coll Seck served for more than ten years as a specialist in infectious diseases in leading hospitals in Dakar, Senegal and Lyon, France. She specialized in bacteriology and virology, infectious and tropical diseases. She also studied applied epidemiology and biostatistics in Annecy, France. In 1989, she was appointed Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the University of Dakar and Chief of Service for Infectious Diseases at the University Hospital in Dakar. She was the Director of the UNAIDS Department of County and Regional Support for Africa, Asia, Eastern and Central Europe, and Latin American and the Caribbean from 1996-2001. In 2002, she served as president of the Assembly of the Ministries of Health of the West African Health Organization.
From 2001-2003 and 2012-2017, Dr. Coll Seck served as Minister of Health, Senegal. As Minister of Health, she initiated far-reaching reform of the health sector in Senegal and engaged a wide range of government, civil society and private sector partners in the implementation and expansion of public health programmes. She mobilized strong political commitment within her country for health to be rightly recognized as key to economic and social development, and she successfully mobilized financial resources both domestically and from bilateral and multilateral international donors.
From 2004-2011 she was the Executive Secretary of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership based in Geneva, Switzerland. She has been a coordinator, counselor, and trainer with the National AIDS Program and a member of the World Health Organization country team in Senegal.
Dr. Coll Seck is also a member of the WHO Advisory Group on the Ebola Virus Disease Response. In January, 2019, the WHO Advisory Group established strategy to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. One of the responses was to immunize first responders and health workers who fight against this disease, partnering with the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Coll Seck has been honored on numerous professional and academic grounds, including the Knight of the Order of Merit of the French Republic, Officer of the Order of Merit Senegalese; and Knight of the Order of Merit of Burkina Faso. She is an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences and Technologies of Senegal and the author of more than 150 scientific publications. In January 2016, Coll-Seck was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the High-level Advisory Group for Every Woman Every Child. Also since January 2016, she has been serving on the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).
Dr. Awa Marie Coll Seck has tremendously impacted the health sector of Africa and she is indeed an Icon worth emulating.