AHF Global Public Health Institute at University of Miami Launched

Dr. Jorge Saavedra, AHF Global Ambassador & Former Head of Mexico’s CENSIDA, is appointed Executive Director of new institute

MIAMI (March 15, 2018) In a meeting in Miami last week, Dr. Julio Frenk, President of the University of Miami (UM), and Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) agreed to formally announce the launch of the AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami. This partnership will engage in global public health policy analysis and research to generate objective evidence that can inform improvements in public health policy at the global, regional, national and local levels, not just for HIV, but for other aspects of public health as well.

“This partnership began with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between both institutions in September 2016. The Institute already has important projects underway, including a study on Zika and public health policies and practices that can be used to inform recommendation for future Zika preparedness and response in the Americas; an initiative on harm reduction among injection drug users in Miami-Dade County, a study of the  microbiome on HIV-negative gay men; and, a study of the US Minority AIDS Initiative intended to yield recommendations for improved strategies for reaching minority populations,” said Dr José Szapocznik, Professor and Chair Emeritus of the Department of Public Health Science at the UM Miller School of Medicine, who directs the UM component of the partnership.

Dr. Frenk welcomed the partnership and the creation of the AHF Institute. During the meeting, he also recommended some strategic thinking on the further evolution of the Institute to include addressing global health governance issues.

“The new ‘AHF Global Public Health Institute at UM’ is a wonderful example of the synergy that can be gained through partnership. The School of Nursing and Health Studies is looking forward to the Institute’s interdisciplinary work that will make a positive impact on global health,” said Cindy Munro, Dean of the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies, who was also present at the meeting.

In discussing AHF’s involvement beyond HIV, Michael Weinstein noted during the meeting that in 2015, AHF, as part of an independent panel, took part in evaluating the global response to Ebola, in light of an outbreak that devastated West Africa in 2014 and 2015. That panel was initially co-led by UM’s President Frenk.

“Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan, AHF’s key doctor in Sierra Leone and one of its most respected and prominent physician/scientists, after caring for many Ebola infected patients, died from Ebola in 2014—a devastating loss to his family, his patients, for AHF and for the overall fight for global health,” said AHF’s Weinstein. “We expressed to WHO our concerns about the global response to Ebola in Sierra Leone and throughout Africa. That is when we realized that AHF, as a global health care organization, had a duty and moral responsibility to devote some of our resources to analyze other diseases beyond HIV. We are now committed to this new partnership with the University of Miami to generate rigorous research that will inform improvements in global public health policies.”

During the meeting, Weinstein also announced the appointment of Dr. Jorge Saavedra as Executive Director for the AHF Institute for Global Health.

Dr. Saavedra, a medical doctor from the National Autonomous University of Mexico has two master’s degrees from Harvard, one in Public Health and a second in Health Policy and Management. Prior to joining AHF, he was also the first director of the largest HIV clinic in Latin America (Clinica Condesa) in Mexico City during 2000 and served as Director General of the National Center for AIDS Prevention and Control in Mexico (CENSIDA) from 2003-2009, and later as AHF’s Global Public Health Ambassador.