Lancet Editorial Examines Finalists To Replace UNAIDS Executive Director Piot
An editorial in the Oct. 18 issue of the journal Lancet examines four individuals recommended by the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board to replace current Executive Director Peter Piot, who will step down from the post at the end of the year. Piot has been the UNAIDS executive director since 1995 and "has raised the profile of HIV/AIDS so successfully that the epidemic has remained a high priority on health, political and security agendas," the editorial says.
According to the Lancet, UNAIDS set up a search committee after Piot announced his resignation and interviewed seven candidates from 117 applicants. Summaries of the four candidates the board recommended appear below.
- Tim Barnett: Barnett has been a Labour Party member of Parliament in New Zealand since 1996. He currently is a senior government whip but in the past has worked for nongovernmental organizations in the U.K. and elsewhere. The Lancet adds that his "particular strengths lie in participative democracy, citizens' access, partnerships with NGOs and innovative law reform."
- Stefano Bertozzi: Bertozzi is an HIV/AIDS researcher and founding director of the Division of Health Economics and Policy at Mexico's National Institute of Public Health. He also is a member of the Technical Evaluation Reference Group at the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
- Michel Sidibe: Sidibe, who currently is the deputy executive director for UNAIDS, has worked for the United Nations for 20 years. According to the Lancet, his "record in working with international and local organizations at all levels is impressive, as is his commitment to human rights, especially for women and children, and to ... greater involvement of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS."
- Debrework Zewdie: Zewdie is the director of the Global HIV/AIDS Program at the World Bank. She helped form the Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program, which has funded more than 40 projects with a total budget of $1.5 billion. In addition, with a background in immunology, Zewdie has a "strong history, particularly in Africa, of research, management and advocacy, especially in women's health," according to the Lancet.
The editorial concludes, "It is time to unwind the rhetoric and reposition the response to HIV/AIDS as one of several important health challenges. A view beyond HIV/AIDS will reinforce plurality and justice, protecting minorities and thus wider majorities. UNAIDS needs to abandon AIDS exceptionalism. Horizontal programmes are now equally as important as vertical ones. The new executive director will need to work with others from the non-HIV world and be big on prevention and access to all essential medicines, including antiretrovirals" (Lancet, 10/18).
In related news, the Imperial College London recently announced that Piot will head a new institute for global health (Imperial College London release, 10/16).
The editorial is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.