Washington Post Profiles Global AIDS Coordinator Randall Tobias
The Washington Post on Friday profiled Randall Tobias, head of the new State Department Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator. Tobias, who previously served as chair and CEO of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly before retiring, is a "newcomer" to the issue of HIV/AIDS, which initially made his appointment "controversial," the Post reports. "To trust this position -- with so many lives at stake -- to someone with no public health experience is astonishing," Global AIDS Alliance Director Paul Zeitz said. Tobias has countered criticisms saying that what is needed is "an imaginative new strategy for integrating prevention, delivery of treatment and care." Since his confirmation in October 2003, he has approached the AIDS epidemic "much as he did his business," the Post reports. Some people who were initially critical of his appointment say that he should be given the "benefit of the doubt for now," according to the Post. "I understand people's concerns, but I also know business as usual is not going to get the job done," Sandra Thurman, president of the International AIDS Trust and director of the Clinton administration's national AIDS policy, said, adding, "I'm hopeful that he will be able to get these antiquated systems and bureaucratically choked agencies off their duffs and get the job done." Tobias has also received support from CDC Director Julie Gerberding, who last year traveled to Africa with Tobias. Gerberding said that because the primary challenge for AIDS drug distribution in Africa is the lack of infrastructure, "you need someone with a CEO mentality but also someone who can connect with people on a personal basis," adding that Tobias is the "right man for the job without question" (Wright, Washington Post, 2/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.