Durban: Professor Salim Abdool Karim and his wife Quarraisha Abdool Karim have been chosen to be part of the World Health Organization and the United Nations, respectively.
Salim, an infectious disease epidemiologist and an Aids and Covid-19 scientist, was appointed to the WHO's nine-member science council. The council comprises the world’s leading health researchers.
It is chaired by Dr Harold Varmus, an American Nobel Prize-winning scientist. The others are Dr Edith Heard (United Kingdom), Professor Adeeba Kamarulzaman (Malaysia), Dr Mary-Claire King (US), Professor Abla Mehio Sibai (Lebanon), Dr Denis Mukwege (the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Dr Bill Pape (Haiti) and Dr Yongyuth Yuthavong (Thailand).
They will be inaugurated into the council next week.
The council was established to provide scientific advice to respond to health problems. These include global health threats, interpreting the latest scientific and medical knowledge, and identifying advances in technology to improve health globally. It will provide strategic advice to the WHO on science, research and innovation in relation to the future impact of scientific developments.
Salim, the director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa, said: “Pandemics such as Aids and Covid-19 have highlighted the important role of science in global health. I am looking forward to participating in this council providing scientific advice to the WHO on future developments in health that the world needs to be better prepared for.”
Salim, a Caprisa Professor of Global Health at Columbia University, was the chair of the South African ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19. In December 2020, he received the John Maddox Prize alongside Dr Anthony Fauci of the US for standing up for science.
His wife, Quarraisha, was appointed to the United Nations 10-member group for facilitating the use of technology in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The infectious diseases epidemiologist and associate scientific director of Caprisa will co-chair the UN group for two years.
The group will work with the UN Inter-Agency Task Team on Science, Technology, and Innovation for the SDG to provide ideas, guidance, and recommendations. It represents and mobilises inputs from civil society, the private sector, and scientific communities around the world.