Wednesday, 11 November 2015

CARTA’s co-director awarded honorary doctorate by the University of Gothenburg

Prof. Sharon Fonn, the co-director for the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Sahlgrenska Academy, at the University of Gothenburg, which is one of the participating institutions in CARTA. This honorary doctorate was awarded courtesy of her collaboration with Sahlgrenska Academy; her work with CARTA; and the immense contribution of her research to the public healthcare system. The honorary doctorate was conferred at a ceremony in Gothenburg on October 16, 2015.

Honorary doctorates are awarded each year at Sahlgrenska Academy to those who have played a key role in the academy's research or education, or who have otherwise promoted progress in one of its focus areas.

Prof. Sharon Fonn being conferred the degree. Photo by Johan Wingborg
“It seems inconceivable to me when given such an honor, not to ask why me?  So why would the University of Gothenburg honor me in this way?” said Prof. Fonn.

In her speech while receiving the award, Prof. Fonn talked about her work during the apartheid in South Africa, her research on integrating and strengthening health care systems, as well as about being a member of the team that initiated the CARTA program. She further noted that she shares the fundamental values of the University of Gothenburg - values that led to a fruitful cooperation and also to her appointment for the award of an honorary doctorate at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

“I knew for me that being a doctor was a means to an end and not an end in itself; it was for me a way of redressing structural disadvantage at the population level.  Structural disadvantage is a profound force and engaging in efforts to redress disadvantage and inequality can be one’s life’s work. For those of us who make this part of our work, we are enormously privileged to do so. Being able to make a difference is tremendously rewarding and I can recommend it to anyone.  It has become one of my core values and one that I share with those that I work with at the University of Gothenburg” said Prof. Fonn.

“We must focus on people, not diseases. The entire health system must be strengthened in order for it to work and be able to respond to future outbreaks of serious diseases such as Ebola,” she said adding, “You understand the impact of structural inequality and that doing something to redress structural inequality is fulfilling and mutually beneficial. While you honor me so highly today with this honorary doctorate I want to stop and honor you for your commitment and action in promoting a more equal academic world and partnering with us in Africa.”

Prof. Fonn’s research has been greatly focused on the integration of health systems. She believes in interventions and actions targeting individuals rather than specific diseases, such as HIV because these prioritize the disease alone and has zero benefits to the health system as a whole.

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