Zambian medic lands top UN job

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A Zambian medical doctor has become Director and World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr Francis Kasolo will be leading a team in ensuring that WHO and UNECA efforts are harmonised to collectively deliver better health for all those living in Africa.

“The appointment is a new challenge to me and I hope that working with others,we will achieve success,” Dr Kasolo said from Accra, Ghana where he is currently WHO representative.

In his last posting as WHO Representative, Dr Kasolo has been working with government and partners to help Ghana make progress towards the attainment of universal health coverage, specifically ensuring a functioning health insurance scheme.

His work in Accra included improving the quality of services, addressing the issue of local manufacturing of medical products, improving data management, emergency preparedness, climate change and health, among others.

Dr Kasolo joined WHO in 2004 as the Regional Virologist responsible for overseeing the various virology laboratory networks in 47 African countries.

“I have since held various positions such as WHO representative to Ghana and South Africa as well as Director for Disease Prevention and Control and Director of the Regional Directorate among others,” he says.

In 2014, Dr Kasolo was seconded to the United Nations mission responsible for the response to Ebola outbreak in West Africa where he was responsible for the overall coordination of the response and later Ebola preparedness in West Africa.

“I have over 90 peer reviewed articles in the area of infectious diseases,” says Dr Kasolo, who was bestowed with the Associate Professor honour by the Lusaka Apex Medical University.

Before joining the WHO, he worked for the Ministry of Health, rising through the ranks to become Consultant Virologist at Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital (UTH) where he set up the first virology laboratory in Zambia, as well as the first ever HIV treatment clinic.

“I was also responsible for rolling out HIV voluntary counselling and testing facilities across Zambia,” Dr Kasolo says.

Born in Chinsali, in the then Northern Province , he is the fifth son of Peter Kasolo and his wife
Emerentian Bwalya Kasolo.

He started his my primary school at Mongu fee paying school, then moved to Hillside primary school in Chipata before completing primary school at Northmead Primary School.

Dr Kasolo proceeded to Lusaka’s Munali Secondary School before going to the University of Zambia where he studied medicine graduating from the class of 1988.

“I went to study for my post graduate in Japan, moving to the UK where I obtained a master’s degree and PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and also obtaining a Diploma in Tropical Medicine from the Royal College of Physicians England,” says Dr Kasolo, who is also a fellow of the Royal College of physicians in Edinburgh.

By Benedict Tembo

Kalemba February 16, 2024

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