RESEARCH on HIV/ AIDS has suffered a setback following the death of a leading scientist, Dr Joep Lange (59) who was one of the passengers in the ill- fated Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, claiming 298 lives.
Reacting to the tragic news on Saturday, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of People Living with HIV (NACOPHA) Mr Deogratias Tutatwa expressed grief over the death of the scientist and former president of the International AIDS Society, who died on flight MH17 on his way to an international AIDS conference.
The Dutch Citizen died along with other over 100 top researchers, health workers and activists on HIV who were on board that plane. Speaking with the ‘Sunday News’ over the phone on Saturday, Mr Tutatwa said that Mr Lange was going to present recent findings to a crucial world meeting on HIV/Aids in Melbourne, Australia.
“Mr Lange was determined to bring to zero the infection of HIV/ Aids from one person to another and the world might be getting backward in the fight of HIV due to this death.
As researchers we feel that the world has been robbed of a great man who was going to write new history related to the fight against HIV/Aids.
We wonder whether we can get such a person like him,” he added. Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare Dr Kebwe Steven Kebwe also expressed his sorrow over the loss of the researcher noting that the World especially Africa has lost an important person in the fight against HIV.
“As we have heard from various international media over the sad news, we join the rest of the people worldwide to mourn the death of such an important person,” he said.
The late Lange was one of the giants in terms of AIDS research and AIDS access to treatment and care in poor places around the world.
According to Richard Marlink , the Executive Director of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative. “He worked in Thailand on vaccines, in Africa on access to care and medical education.
On top of all that was just a gem of a person,” He said. Mr Lange was professor of medicine and head of the department of global health at the University of Amsterdam.
He had been involved in HIV treatment and research since 1983, just as the virus was emerging as a global health threat. He was one of the key researchers behind several pivotal antiretroviral therapy trials, including projects involving the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus in both the developing and developed world, according to the Amsterdam Institute of Global Health and Development.
Very early on in the fight against AIDS, Lange advocated bringing HIV medications to the developing world. He’d travel to the most under-served areas to promote best practices in HIV care, and contributed to knowledge about HIV/AIDS with more than 300 academic papers and as editor of the journal Antiviral Therapy.
At the World Health Organization in the 1990s, he led their clinical research and drug development unit. Mr Lange together with the fellow researchers were on their way to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne.
Mr Briton Glenn Thomas, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO) and a former BBC journalist, also died in that flight. The International AIDS Society expressed sadness over the news that its colleagues were on the Malaysian jetliner.
“At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy,” the group said in a statement.
Friends and colleagues of those within the AIDS-research community, including UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé, also Continues on pg 3 Continues on pg 3 expressed shock and grief over the tragic deaths on Twitter.