Boakye Adwini Boatin
Senior Scientific Advisor, Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre for Africa, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana

This is where my passion and efforts to see preventative medicine achieve the goals I sought were realized. Our teamwork and commitment led to a programme so deftly and efficiently run largely through vector control that soon river blindness no longer posed a disease of public health importance in the region...over 600, 000 cases of blindness were prevented, 40 million protected from ocular morbidity, and onchocerciasis infection had disappeared from a million people.

Dr. Boakye Adwini Boatin worked in the WHO’s Onchocerciasis Control Program (OCP) in West Africa for many years, beginning as an epidemiologist and eventually becoming its director. Under his watch, the program made great strides toward the control of river blindness. As director, Boatin oversaw a vector control program, which included mobile and later community-directed treatment rounds with ivermectin. His teams visited West Africa’s most remote areas to deliver treatment, including conflict and post-conflict zones. Civil wars put his staff in extreme danger and caused evacuations and loss of equipment and funding. Inspired by the prospect of eliminating the disease, Boatin’s teams redoubled their efforts in the face of these hardships. Eventually, the OCP prevented hundreds of thousands of cases and cured nearly one million individuals.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Boatin also worked on a surveillance research  program in the Luangwa valley in Zambia to reduce the prevalence of sleeping sickness. After completing his term as Director of OCP, he briefly managed the HIV/AIDS Medicine and Diagnostic Service of WHO, playing a key role in soliciting funding from charitable foundations to support the treatment and prevention of HIV. He also served as a manager and research coordinator in the WHO’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO-TDR), overseeing important research into lymphatic filariasis in high-burden countries.

Dr. Boatin retired from WHO in 2009 and currently serves as Senior Scientific Advisor for the Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre for Africa at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana. His long career working toward the elimination of many Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) has inspired others to follow in his footsteps and work toward the goal of elimination.