Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima has said she is honoured to be asked by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to lead the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
“I embrace the role with humility, passion, and faith that we can end this pandemic by 2030. I look forward to joining UNAIDS team and working closely with co-sponsors and partners to remove barriers to prevention, treatment, and care,” the 60-year-old said on her twitter handle @Winnie_Byanyima.
AIDS-related illnesses have killed 35 million people since the first cases were reported more than 35 years ago.
Guterres appointed Winnie, as she is fondly called by many, on Wednesday after the previous incumbent left accused of serious mismanagement.
She succeeds Michel Sidibe who stepped down in May after he was accused of creating “a patriarchal culture tolerating harassment and abuse of authority.”
An Independent Expert Panel (IEP) report commissioned by UNAIDS’s governing body said the agency’s culture under Sidibe also failed “to uphold the United Nations’ laws and values.”
Sidibe left UNAIDS after a decade-long tenure to become Mali’s health minister.
Guterres continued to praise Sidibe despite his being reprimanded for mishandling a sexual assault investigation involving one of his top deputies.
Sidibe’s divisive era led AIDS experts to voice concerns over the future of the UN body, which UNAIDS leads a global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
In the statement announcing Winnie’s appointment, Guterres said the former Mbarara Municipality MP “brings a wealth of experience and commitment in harnessing the power of government, multilateral agencies, the private sector and civil society to end the HIV and AIDS crisis from communities around the world.”