The University of KwaZulu-Natal is proud to announce the appointment of Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Nana Poku as Chair of the Frontline Aids Board of Trustees, with effect from June this year. The appointment runs concurrently with Professor Poku’s position as Vice-Chancellor of the University.
Frontline AIDS is the world’s leading global partnership of more than 60 nationally-based civil society organisations working in almost 100 countries around the world to curb the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. Founded in 1993 under the banner of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance to work with community groups in the countries most affected by the global AIDS epidemic, the partnership relaunched two years ago as Frontline AIDS to revive awareness of its mission and attract renewed support. In the first year of its relaunch (2019), Frontline AIDS provided over 6 million marginalised and vulnerable people with sexual and reproductive health and rights interventions; reached more than 5 million marginalised and other vulnerable people with HIV prevention programmes and delivered training to 999 community organisations. Its programme of work includes interventions on gender equality, human rights; HIV prevention; HIV treatment and care; sexual and reproductive health and rights; supporting adolescents and young people; harm reduction, and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accepting this role, Professor Nana Poku said: “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.
“I am clear that the board can help consolidate Frontline AIDS’ already considerable standing and achievements, enlarge its strategic vision, maximise its impacts and inspire others. I am proud to have joined this outstanding organisation and look forward to the work we will undertake together,” he said.
Dr Letticia Moja, Chair of Council, extended Council’s congratulations on the Vice-Chancellor and Principal being appointed to this world-leading body in a statement to the University Community yesterday. She added that Professor Nana Poku is highly respected as one of the world’s foremost experts on the political economy of Africa’s HIV and AIDS epidemic.
Professor Poku was tasked to lead the United Nations Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa (CHGA) 2003-2006, at the behest of then Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. The Commission’s work led to the continental momentum to confront HIV and AIDS as the greatest leadership challenge resulting in the establishment of the Abuja declaration and the Global Fund.
Professor Poku has directed a World Bank programme of operational research (the Treatment Acceleration Programme) to pilot strategies for strengthening the country’s capacity to scale up comprehensive HIV and AIDS programmes providing care and treatment in an effective, affordable, and equitable manner. The outcome of the programme was significant in influencing the World Health Organisation’s global policy framework on the provision of complex AIDS-related medication in resource poor settings.
UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor has advised and provided technical assistance to more than 30 governments on HIV and AIDS policy and programming and has worked closely with numerous regional and global bodies, including the World Health Organisation, World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, UNAIDS, African Union, African Development Bank, and the Economic Commission for Africa, to advance the AIDS response. His experience at the highest political levels, combined with his ongoing research at the frontline of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, ensures he is excellently placed to support Frontline AIDS and its Global Plan of Action in his role as Chair.
Professor Poku is one of four new trustees appointed by the Board of Frontline Aids this month. Christine Stegling, Executive Director at Frontline AIDS, said: “These appointments represent an exciting renewal of our board, and I am very much looking forward to working with our new board members. We were particularly keen to recruit trustees rooted in the regions where our partners are based, and we are pleased that a number of exceptionally well-qualified individuals who meet those criteria will be joining us this year.”