DURBAN - UNIVERSITY of KwaZulu-Natal’s vice-chancellor and principal has been recognised as one of the world’s leading experts in research and policy on the political economy of health and HIV/ Aids in sub-Saharan Africa.
Professor Nana Poku was recognised for his work by global institute Perrett Laver, a leading international executive research firm.
The organisation finds outstanding leaders who bring diversity and vision to “purpose-driven” sectors in over 70 countries globally.
Poku has been appointed as chairperson of the Frontline Aids board of trustees, and his role will take effect next month.
“I am delighted to have joined Frontline Aids as chair of the board of trustees. Now more than ever the world needs re-energised and refocused commitment to eliminating Aids as a global public health threat,” Poku said.
The professor has an impressive career spanning over three decades which included leading the UN Commission on HIV/Aids and Governance in Africa at the Economic Commission for Africa.
He has also worked in various capacities with global bodies such as the World Health Organization, World Bank, UN Development Programme, and UNAids.
“Frontline Aids has a unique role as a partnership network, placing resources where they are most needed and best applied, with local expertise and knowledge,” Poku said.
He said there was no one technique or programmatic response that would work across the variety of communities worst affected by Aids.
He said marginalised populations were most at risk and it mattered greatly that Frontline Aids concentrated on those communities and fundamental matters such as accessible sexual and reproductive health clinics, prevention programmes and HIV testing.
Frontline Aids is the world’s largest partnership of civil society organisations working to end HIV and Aids.
It was established in 1993 as the International HIV/Aids Alliance, and the partnership was relaunched as Frontline Aids in 2019 in a bid to reinvigorate awareness of and support for its mission.
Poku said it would certainly be possible to reduce Aids to the extent it was no longer a global public health emergency.
“However, extending and maintaining treatment programmes on the scale required is going to take political and financial commitment beyond the current generation of leaders.”
He said rates of infections were dropping, but not fast enough to place an Aids-free future on the horizon.
“The past year has shown us just how much we can achieve by working together, and so it is up to all of us to play our part in reducing the global burden and ensuring no one should go without prevention or treatment for HIV.”