The 2015 IUSSP Laureate ceremony for Cheikh Mbacké
San Diego, California 29 April 2015
The IUSSP presented the 2015 Laureate to Cheikh Mbacké during a ceremony in the presence of Cheikh’s numerous friends and colleagues held at the PAA Annual Meeting in San Diego, California. The session included presentations highlighting the major contributions Cheikh has made to research on population and development as well as his investments in training and capacity building in Africa.
During the first half of the ceremony, Sally Findley (Columbia University), Clémentine Rossier (University of Geneva/INED) and Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue (Cornell University) demonstrated the importance of Cheikh Mbacké’s influence on their own research in captivating presentations that mixed memories and anecdotes with the results of scientific research.
Sally Findley’s presentation, “The importance of repeated observations in a community: Fieldwork inspired by Cheikh Mbacké in Niono, Hahuche, and Navrongo”, discussed the relationship between climate change and demographic events. In a study based on longitudinal data from Niono, Mali, she showed how migration was not more frequent during a dry year than a wet year and that the introduction of irrigation influenced the type of migration. Another study conducted in Navrongo, Ghana, one of the first demographic surveillance sites of the INDEPTH Network, in which Cheikh Mbacké was heavily implicated, demonstrated the effectiveness of synchronizing health prevention campaigns with the seasons. Women were much more receptive to messages on malaria prevention when they were delivered just before the seasonal increase in the illness.
Clémentine Rossier next presented the results of a comparative study, "Cheikh-ing on maternal health care utilization in Nairobi and Ouagadougou" carried out jointly with Kanyiva Muindi, Abdramane Soura, Blessing Mberu, Bruno Lankoande, Caroline Kabiru and Roch Millogo on antenatal health care in urban slums of two African capitals, Nairobi and Ouagadougou. The women in Nairobi went to antenatal visits more regularly than women in Ouagadougou. In contrast, the great majority of women in Ouagadougou give birth in medical centers while the Nairobi women often give birth at home. This paradox is explained by the fact that in Nairobi, antenatal care is widely available but of poor quality and thus does not incite women to seek a medicalized birth. In Ouagadougou, births in a health structure are the rule, but in order to access the health center, women must have had at least one antenatal visit. This illuminating information could only have been obtained through a longitudinal study of the population, a method dear to Cheikh Mbacké.
The final scientific presentation in the scientific part of the ceremony was an abundantly illustrated and humoristic presentation by Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, "Cheikh or Check: Building Demographic Capacity in Africa". Parfait reminded all present of the noble principles that have permitted Cheikh Mbacké to contribute so greatly to reinforcing capacity for demographic research in Africa. Beyond indispensable financial resources, a combination of permanent engagement, clear objectives, indestructible enthusiasm, as well as scientific excellence, are required. All qualities present in Cheikh!
During the second half of the ceremony, IUSSP President Anastasia Gage bestowed the award to Cheikh Mbacke. She noted the important impact Cheikh Mbacké had on her own career before citing excerpts of the nomination letter signed by more than 50 IUSSP members from 19 different countries. Tom LeGrand, Ruth Levine, and Eliya Zulu then spoke of their friendship with Cheikh and praised his achievements, but also his good humor and accessibility. Cheikh gave a brief and modest response thanking all for their recognition, honour and praise.
The numerous participants appreciated the warmth of the ceremony that permitted all to give tribute to an outstanding figure in the world of population sciences.
For more information on Cheikh Mbacké's accomplishments and contributions to the population field please read the letter of nomination.