Sex, Drugs and R&D: finding Africa’s Harm Reduction Balance

Moderator:
Mr Christophe Bourillon
Panellists:
Mr Shaun Shelly
Prof Michel Kazatchkine
Prof Quarraisha Abdool Karim
Prof Solomon Rataemane

Mr Christophe Bourillon

Christophe has 25years of experience in senior management and communication at the national and international levels. He founded and led various trade associations, such as the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and drove other organizations through major transformations. He held senior management positions in larger organizations, such as Pechiney/Alcan (now Constellium) and logen.

Christophe was an active contributor to the UN negotiations on climate change for more than fifteen years and he spearheaded Pechiney’s activities with the UN Global Compact. He was actively involved in the development of the company’s AIDS/HIV campaigns in Africa.

Mr Shaun Shelly

Shaun Shelly is dedicated to the development of effective, science-informed drug policy. Shaun seeks to reduce the harms created by current drug policies that continue to result in unnecessary deaths, and hopes that events like the SA Science Forum will help promote a more humane, inclusive and evidence based response to people dependent on regulated and unregulated drugs. He brings clinical, academic, programmatic, research and lived experience together into a 360 degree-view of the complex issues that inform our understanding and response to the use of drugs, and the people that use them. Shaun is the current Deputy Secretary of the United Nations VNGOC on Drugs, founded the SA Drug Policy Week at TBHIV Care, holds an appointment at the University of Pretoria, Department of Family Medicine, and sits on a number of advisory boards, locally and internationally.

Prof Michel Kazatchkine

Michel Kazatchkine has over 30 years of experience in the fight against AIDS as a leading physician, researcher, administrator, advocate, policy-­‐maker, and diplomat. He attended medical school in Paris and has completed postdoctoral fellowships at St. Mary’s hospital in London and Harvard Medical School. He is Professor of Immunology at Université René Descartes in Paris and has authored or co-­authored over 500 publications. Professor Kazatchkine has played key roles in various organizations, serving as director of the national Agency for Research on AIDS in France (1998-­‐2005), and as French ambassador on HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases (2005-­‐2007). In 2007, Professor Kazatchkine was elected Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a position in which he served until March 2012. Between 2012 and 2017, Professor Kazatchkine served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Since 2018, he is the Special Advisor to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He is also Senior Fellow with the Global Health Centre of the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Prof Quarraisha Abdool Karim

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim is an NRF A-rated scientist, infectious diseases epidemiologist and Associate Scientific Director of CAPRISA. Her research for the past 28 years has focusedon HIV infection in adolescent girls and young women that includes the conduct of clinical trials from early phase, through proof of concept and implementation of new discoveries. She is Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, USA and is Pro-ViceChancellor for African Health at theUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Abdool Karimis the UNAIDS Special Ambassador for Adolescents and HIV, a member of the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and Scientific Advisor to the Executive Director of UNAIDS and amongst others, she is theScientific Advisory Board member of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). New infections in adolescents is a challenge in preventing HIV globally.

Prof Solomon Rataemane

Prof. Solomon Tshimong Rataemane: (President: African Psychiatric Association and Allied Professions 2014 – 2017). He is head of Department of Psychiatry, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in South Africa; World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Board member and WPA Representative Zone 14 (2008 – 2014); and Chair of the WPA Section on Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution (2011 – 2018). He has special interest in addiction medicine and has served as deputy chairperson and chairperson of the Central Drug Authority of South Africa from 1995 to 2005. World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation Secretary General); American Psychiatric Association (International Fellow); South African Society of Psychiatrists (Chair International Relations Division); International Council on Alcohol and Addictions ( member); He is chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Mental Health in South Africa.

There are over 52 million cannabis, 6 million amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS), 3 million cocaine, 2 million opioid and 1.5 million ecstasy (MDMA) users in Africa today. With a clear pan-African focus, this high-level panel will evidence how the goal of a ‘drug-free world’ backed up by a ‘war on drugs’ anchored in ‘science’ and enshrined in the international drug control treaties is both naïve and dangerous. Naïve, in that prohibition has had little impact on drug use with the number of consumers increasing, particularly in the developing world. Dangerous, in that prohibition fuels inhuman and coerced drug treatments, massive incarcerations, extrajudicial killings and the death penalty in contravention of international law.

This session unites leading medical, policy and civil society experts to examine the late Kofi Annan’s statement that “drugs have harmed many people, but bad government policies have harmed many more”. Taking examples of illicit and licit drug use such as cannabis and nicotine, the panel looks back in anger to question why lessons learned from the African HIV/Aids response are not being applied today. Country responses may differ, but the continental score card clearly reads ‘could do better’. The reflex to favour prohibition only stokes the spread of blood-borne viruses, drives human rights abusers for profit and contributes to the drug-related deaths of nearly 200,000 people annually. Strict drug laws have escalated public health crises including HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis epidemics. Prohibition also limits research about the possibly medical utility of illicit substances and builds obstacles to the prescription of pain relief and palliative medication, South Africa being a prime example.

Engaging the audience in open dialogue, the panel’s common aim is to advocate for greater empathy and challenge the way African societies view those that use drugs. They will demonstrate that the global scientific, regulatory and ethical picture from acceptance to partial and total bans is a mess. While South Africa and Canada explore regulated markets for cannabis or the UK considers free e-cigarettes on the NHS, increased violence and repression takes hold in places like the Philippines, Cambodia and Bangladesh. As experts for and against more humane laws mount onslaughts at the WHO, FDA and AU, evidence-based science is taking a back seat to policy-biased evidence.

2018-12-11T16:40:48+00:00