Mission: To empower Africans to produce, access and quality control pharmaceutical drugs.
Vision: Africa free of HIV/AIDS. Providing the world with the capacity to produce lifesaving pharmaceutical drugs is an expression of our commitment to peace, health and human dignity.
Guiding Principles: AIDSfreeAFRICA’s work is based on the principles of self-sustainability and active participation by the people who the intervention must benefit. We look for win-win situations and opportunities where small contributions create ripple effects that lead to extraordinary and lasting changes in people’s lives.
I was inspired when I attended a UN conference as a representative for Servas, an international peace organization I had been a part of for over 15 years. It was during that time I had the good fortune to attend a speech by Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, Present of Brazil, in which he shared his country’s successful strategy to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic. His solution? He boldly ordered Brazil’s pharmaceutical industry to produce affordable, generic HIV/AIDS pharmaceutical drugs. He challenged fellow government officials to work towards releasing existent patents in order to promote the manufacture of generic, thus more affordable, versions of antiretroviral drugs.
Lula da Silva’s mission has shown results. By 2005, a few crucial HIV/AIDS medications were released from patent protection, liberating generic pharmaceutical drug manufacturing in developing countries.
Marlene Rubins introduced me to Michael Steuerman – a member of The Hunger Project – who in turn introduced me to Hunger Project staff member, Jennifer R. Thomson. Jennifer and I met, and she told me about her experiences setting up a micro loan system in Uganda and HIV/AIDS prevention programs implemented by The Hunger Project. An experienced traveler to the African continent, she generously shared her knowledge, right down to her favorite kind of malaria pills and the kind to avoid.
In June of 2004, I visited my friend and long-time mentor Dr. Gunda Georg, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas in Lawrence KS. Over lunch, talking about AIDSfreeAFRICA she mentioned that she has a friend who visits Cameroon three times a year. Knowing only that friend’s name and phone number, I called her on August 1st and told her about AIDSfreeAFRICA, and that Gunda had referred me to her because of her knowledge of Cameroon. She immediately asked me what I needed. I responded that I was looking for a place in Africa; people that want to be trained, teachers that can do the training, water, electricity and a connection to the government.