Botswanan chosen as new UN envoy to tackle HIV/AIDS in Africa

Botswanan chosen as new UN envoy to tackle HIV/AIDS in Africa

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed a Botswanan policymaker and activist as his new Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa and renewed the terms of three other regional envoys.

Elizabeth Mataka, a Botswanan who is currently Executive Director of the Zambian National AIDS Network and Vice-Chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was chosen to replace Stephen Lewis of Canada, whose contract expired at the end of last year.

A social worker by training, Ms. Mataka has 16 years' experience in the HIV/AIDS field, working in Government, the private sector and with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on HIV prevention programmes, clinical treatment for opportunistic infections and community and national schemes for the care and support of sufferers.

Announcing the appointments today, the same day the General Assembly is holding a session reviewing implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, Mr. Ban thanked the Special Envoys for their work to advance the UN agenda on the issue in the regions they cover.

“Working with a wide range of partners, including governments and civil society, they have helped mobilize and strengthen responses in many countries,” he said in a press statement accompanying the announcement.

“In particular, they have been instrumental in advocacy on issues related to women and AIDS, championing the greater involvement of people living with AIDS in national responses, and promoting support from the private sector,” added Mr. Ban.

The Secretary-General also met today with representatives of UN+, a group of staff living with HIV from across regions and UN agencies. He reiterated his firm commitment to the fight against AIDS and emphasized his deep admiration for the courage of each of the UN+ members to speak up publicly about their HIV status.

Mr. Ban also stressed his full commitment to continue working with UN+, including addressing stigma and discrimination both in the workplace and in the world at large.

Mr. Ban's Special Envoy for AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, Nafis Sadik, served as Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) from 1987 to 2000, while the Special Envoy for Latin America and the Caribbean, Sir George Alleyne, was Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) from 1995 to 2003. Lars Kallings, who is the Special Envoy for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, was Secretary-General of the International AIDS Society from 1994 to 2002. The appointments of the three envoys have been renewed until the end of 2008.