Dr. Michel Hamala Sidibé 2021 Speaker

Former Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

African Union Special Envoy for African Medicines Agency


A long-standing champion of a people-centered approach to health and development and a strong advocate for social justice, Dr. Michel Hamala Sidibé was the second Executive Director of UNAIDS, serving from January 2009 until May 2019. He held the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

For almost 40 years, Dr. Sidibé has waged a relentless battle in defense of the world’s most vulnerable populations, crusading for human rights, dignity, and the belief that every voice must be heard. His trajectory is characterized by a permanent fight in favor of the most deprived populations, a fight that is part of defending the protection of human rights. Distinguished by his charisma and his ability to carry the voice of the voiceless, a man of the field and action, Dr. Sidibé is a leader close to the population.

Through his globally acclaimed leadership at UNICEF, UNAIDS, and the Government of Mali, Dr. Sidibé is recognized as an innovative advocate for social justice, healthy communities, and sustainable development. His passion for advancing global health and justice began in his native Mali, where he took up the cause of the health and well-being of the nomadic Tuareg people, ultimately leading to his appointment as Mali’s first country director for Terre des Hommes.
In 1982, he formulated and launched the first semi-sedentarization program for the nomadic populations of the Timbuktu region. In 1984, Michel became a founding member of the CCA-ONG, which brings together 111 national and international NGOs working in Mali to coordinate actions in the field and ensure consultation between the NGOs.

In 1987, he joined the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. During a 14-year career at UNICEF, Michel supervised technical assistance programs to 10 French-speaking countries in the formulation of their national programs. He then served as a Representative in Swaziland, Burundi, and Uganda.

In 2001, Dr. Sidibé joined UNAIDS as Country and Regional Support Director. He organized a reform to transform “UNAIDS into a more focused, effective and efficient joint program capable of delivering results at the country level.” In 2007, he was appointed Deputy Executive Director of Programs at UNAIDS and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. In 2008, he was appointed Executive Director of UNAIDS in Geneva. Under his leadership of UNAIDS, more and more countries adopted a Fast-Track approach through which the achievement of a set of measurable targets by 2020 will set the world on course to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. Dr. Sidibé’s leadership in calling for the elimination of new HIV infections among children contributed to a large reduction in new pediatric HIV infections in the 21 priority countries of the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. In 2011 in New York, Michel was part of the formulation and launched with Presidents Clinton and Goodluck of the first Global Plan to Eliminate Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.
In May 2019, he was appointed Minister of Health and Social Affairs in Mali, where he developed the Mali Action Plan, modeled on the World Health Organization’s framework. In 2020, he led the country’s XOF 55 billion COVID-19 Response Plan and formed the National Agency for Reproductive Health to revolutionize maternal and child health in Mali.

In 2020, he was appointed by the African Union to lead the global advocacy to create the African
Medicines Agency (AMA). In 2021 he was appointment a board member of The Global Commission on Drug Policy chaired by Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Sir Richard Branson.

Dr. Sidibé is alumni of Université de Clermont Ferrand in France and has received honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, including Tuskegee University in Alabama, Clark University in Massachusetts, the University of British Columbia in Canada, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Dr. Sidibé is a Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor of France, Officer of the National Order of Mali, Officer of the National Order of Benin, and Chancellor of the National Order of Chad. He has been distinguished by the order of Saint Charles of Monaco. He is Commander of the Central African Order of Merit, Commander of the Order of the Lion of Senegal. He has been honored by the Excellency Order of the Pearl of Africa of Uganda.

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