UKZN’s Emeritus Professor Former Executive Director of the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD), Professor Alan Whiteside has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the United Kingdom’s New Year 2015 Honours list in recognition of his services and strategic interventions to curb HIV and AIDS.
The prestigious award (which is an order of chivalry) recognises distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds.
As a prolific researcher and academic, Whiteside has authored numerous peer reviewed articles, books and papers relating to HIV and AIDS. Feeling the need to share his passion for quality research, Whiteside founded HEARD in 1988. and the unique division’s interdisciplinary applied research continues to make a valuable contribution in producing knowledge and interventions as a proactive effort to overcoming health inequalities in Africa.
Whiteside attributed this award to the active support he received from UKZN and every staff member who contributed to the work he has done.
‘The award is recognition of the importance of the work I did at the University and the team I built. In 1997 the then Dean Professor Lumby saw the potential for the work and helped me create HEARD. With the help of a range of administrative and academic staff I was able to grow a largely, independent unit,’ he said.
In his mission to curb HIV and AIDS, Whiteside shared his knowledge and expertise by mentoring and supervising students as well as working with academics and researchers in this field. He also contributed to international policy on HIV/AIDS through engagement with governments, the United Nations, system and donors.
For Whiteside, his work is driven by the his compassion for people who are dying due to the AIDS pandemic, the fact that the disease is preventable and the need to empower people with education so that they have a fighting chance to beat HIV and AIDS.
‘My passion to research this field was inspired by the fact that the epidemic was preventable. We could see it coming and somehow failed to stop it. I saw people I knew and cared for being affected and dying. It broke my heart. It was on a huge scale,’ he said.
‘The highlight of my career is seeing the importance of treatment which reduces infectivity. The lowlight has to be our nation’s failure to grapple with gender issues, Personally I get huge pleasure from seeing people who have been through the HEARD experience in positions of leadership and influence.’
Whiteside is currently a Professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Canada where he is teaching Health Policy and working on publishing two major books.