DURBAN: Infectious diseases epidemiologist Professor Salim Abdool Karim has been appointed as a member of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Science Council.
Abdool Karim, who is director of the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (Caprisa), stepped down as the co-chair of South Africa’s Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, to focus on his academic commitments in March.
His WHO appointment was announced by Caprisa in a statement on Monday.
The council was established by WHO director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, to directly advise the organisation about high-priority scientific issues.
“The council has been established to provide scientific advice to respond to health problems, such as global health threats, interpret the latest scientific and medical knowledge, and identify the latest advances in technology to improve health globally.”
Abdool Karim said pandemics, such as AIDS and Covid-19, have highlighted the important role of science in global health.
“I am looking forward to participating in this council, providing scientific advice to the WHO on future developments in health that the world needs to be better prepared for,” he said.
Caprisa said the council would also provide guidance to further the organisation’s mission, including identifying current and new science and technology on issues affecting global health.
“The council will provide strategic advice to the WHO on science, research and innovation, in relation to the future impact of scientific developments.”
Each member of the council represents scientific excellence in their domain said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the WHO.
Abdool Karim is also chair of the WHO’s HIV Strategic and Technical Advisory Committee for HIV and Hepatitis.
He is a member of the WHO TB-HIV Task Force, a member of the US National Academy of Medicine, and is a fellow of the Royal Society.
Abdool Karim is also Caprisa professor of Global Health at Columbia University.
In December 2020, he received the John Maddox Prize, together with Dr Anthony Fauci in the US, for standing up for science.
“Abdool Karim is ranked by Web of Science as one of the world’s most highly cited scientists, indicating how widely his scientific papers are quoted and referenced by other scientists worldwide,” said Caprisa.
He serves on the boards of several journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet Global Health, and Lancet HIV.