9 July 2019
DTHF celebrates and supports the Finalists put forward for the UNAIDS top position.
As Michel Sidibe has stepped down in May as long-time Executive Director of UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), the race has been on to find a suitable replacement. We congratulate the selection committee on selecting four African candidates and a 5th candidate that has worked extensively in Africa, South East Asia and Eastern Europe. Any of these candidates would ensure the African HIV epidemic remains a core focus of UNAIDS.
The candidates put forward to compete for the top job are as follows:
- Salim Abdool Karim, Director of the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)
- Sani Aliyu, Director General of the Nigerian National Agency for the Control of AIDS or NACA.
- Chris Beyrer, Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
- Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International.
- Bernard Haufiku, former Minister of Health and Social Services of Namibia.
Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation enthusiastically supports all of these finalists, but would like to note a special relationship with two of them.
Of note, Professor Chris Beyrer is a close friend of the organisation, having conducted extensive work in South Africa and the region more generally to advance access to HIV care and services among African key populations. Prof Beyrer is well described by his faculty at the John Bloomberg School of Public Health as being an “outspoken advocate and champion of human rights” working at the forefront of HIV research. Prof Beyer was also installed as the first Desmond M Tutu Professor in Public Health and Human Rights in 2015, following his collaborative work with the Archbishop on human rights in public health.
DTHF COO, Professor Linda-Gail Bekker was, “particularly struck by the time when Prof Beyrer visited Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the 2008 elections to advocate for access to antiretroviral in a time of political turmoil”. More recently, Prof Beyrer worked alongside Prof Bekker to co-chair the IAS-Lancet Commission on advancing global health and strengthening the HIV response in the SDG era. He has collaborated on many projects with DTHF and others involving LGBTQ populations in Africa.
On the other hand, DTHF has had many successful research partnerships with Salim Abdool Karim and the team from CAPRISA, South Africa. Karim is an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, working at the heart of the South African HIV response in Kwa-Zulu Natal. CAPRISA is a leader in HIV prevention research, which is a priority shared with DTHF. Karim’s appointment would bring a much needed global focus to this issue.
DTHF wishes all candidates good luck as they await the final decision from the UN Secretary-General.