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President Lee C. Bollinger Visits Ghana to Explore Ways to Enhance Collaborative Efforts in Region

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger is travelling to Ghana , West Africa , January 7-13, to explore ways to enhance collaborative efforts already under way in the region.

The trip follows on the heels of Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor's successful visit to the University in September during the United Nations General Assembly. Bollinger will meet with President Kufuor, U.S. Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, Ghanaian Minister of Energy Paa Kwesi Nduom and Minister of State for Tertiary Education Elizabeth Ohene. President Bollinger also will travel to Kumasi , in the Ashanti region, for an audience with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

" Columbia University , working with the United Nations and other international organizations, has long-standing research and service programs in Ghana ," said President Bollinger. "Many distinguished Columbia faculty have worked, and have plans for working, closely with Ghanaians on critical issues of global concern, from improving healthcare delivery to environmental conservation and economic development alternatives. I look forward to discussing ways of building on this strong relationship with President Kufuor and others. We also will explore increased cooperation in international education and related fields."

President Bollinger will discuss higher education issues of mutual interest and ways to maximize cross-national cooperation with Dr. Akilagpa Sawyerr, secretary-general of the Association of African Universities (AAU), headquartered in Accra , Ghana 's capital. The Association boasts more than 177 members in 44 African countries committed to increasing ties with the international education community. Bollinger expects to meet with one or more Vice Chancellors from Ghana 's five public universities for a continued dialogue about educational challenges in the country.

The president also will tour government health facilities where Columbia 's Mailman School of Public Health has been active. The Mailman School 's Averting Maternal Death and Disability (AMDD) program and its local partner in Ghana -- the Regional Prevention of Maternal Mortality (RPMM) Network -- are working to improve the availability, quality, and utilization of emergency obstetric care. Since AMDD's inception in 1999, the program has built a global network of organizations (with partners UNICEF, CARE, UNFPA, Save the Children, and RPMM), to greatly reduce the number of deaths in resource-poor countries from pregnancy and childbirth complications.

A world leading academic center for the study of sustainable development, Columbia 's Earth Institute is collaborating with Ghana 's Ministry of Agriculture to reduce hunger by enhancing soil fertility and food production and by developing lunch programs in elementary schools.

Accompanied by Dr. Abenaa Akuamoa-Boateng, a senior nutritionist with Ghana 's Ministry of Health, President Bollinger is scheduled to visit the local authority primary school in Sekyedomase in the Ejura-Sekyedomase district of the Ashanti region near Kumasi . The model school provides lunch meals of locally produced food for its students.

The school lunch program is part of a larger effort adopted by world leaders at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000 to reduce poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy globally. Eight senior Columbia faculty members serve as coordinators of United Nations Millennium Project task forces, working throughout Africa and elsewhere.

With Accra 's Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Columbia 's Earth Institute also plans future bilateral projects in urban planning, as well as energy and water conservation.

For a public schedule, and/or to arrange an interview during President Bollinger's visit, please contact Katherine Moore at 212-854-9082.

Published: Dec 22, 2003
Last modified: Apr 26, 2004

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