AMSHeR Announces New Executive Director

Humphrey Melusi Ndondo, AMSHeR’s Executive Director


AMSHeR Announces New Executive Director

JOHANNESBURG, November 20, 2017 – The African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) is pleased to announce the selection of Humphrey Melusi Ndondo as its next Executive Director. He will join the team on December 1, 2017, following the departure of Kene Esom at the end of August 2017 after six years with the organisation. The appointment was made after a highly subscribed search and recruitment process.

‘Humphrey’s experience as a public health practitioner and advocate for non-discrimination is a great fit,’ said Andre Wagner, Chairperson of AMSHeR’s Human Resources Committee and Board Vice Chair, who led the Executive Transition Committee. ‘He is a proven change agent who has advanced important work for key populations using a unified framework of equality.’

Humphrey currently serves as Director for the Sexual Rights Centre in Zimbabwe and has been involved in human rights advocacy efforts for various marginalised communities including sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and people living with disabilities.  Prior to his career as a human rights defender, he worked in psychosocial rehabilitation as an Occupational Therapist and a Field Coordinator on the Zimbabwe Field Epidemiology Training Programme (ZimFETP) at the University of Zimbabwe. His current research interests involve exploring the lived heterosexist experiences of LGBT persons, the lived experiences and vulnerability to HIV among minors in sex work, as well as unpacking the intersection of religion, culture and human rights for sexual and gender minorities.

Humphrey noted, My vision for AMSHeR is inspired by the fact that the organisation turns ten years in 2019. I envision an AMSHeR with a strong and mature leadership, one that is responsive to the constituency that it serves at a national, regional and global level. I picture an AMSHeR with a wider remit and a deeper accountability in ensuring that men who have sex with men (MSM) and LGBT individuals in Africa are recognised and respected as full citizens in their respective countries, that diversity is celebrated and not criminalised and that sexual and gender diverse persons realise their potential and live full happy lives.’

Humphrey received his Master’s in Public Health from the University of Zimbabwe where he had earlier earned his undergraduate degree. Humphrey is looking forward to this new challenge and will rely on his personal values of transparency, respect, integrity “Ubuntu”, compassion, frugality, human rights, intersectionality, courage and perseverance and celebration of diversity on the African continent.

Message from AMSHeR Board Chair, Justice Monica Mbaru
On behalf of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Humphrey Melusi Ndondo as the new Executive Director of AMSHeR. Humphrey is an advocate for the rights of sexual minorities on the African continent and has served as Director for the Sexual Rights Centre in Zimbabwe.

Humphrey was born in post-Independence Zimbabwe to a middle-class family where he learned at an early age the values of respect, integrity, compassion, generosity and excellence. He has been involved in human rights advocacy efforts for marginalised communities including sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and people living with disabilities. Prior to starting his career as a Human Rights Defender, he did work in psychosocial rehabilitation as an Occupational Therapist and a Field Coordinator on the Zimbabwe Field Epidemiology Training Programme (ZimFETP) at the University of Zimbabwe. Humphrey has a stellar reputation as a leader who is highly skilled, collaborative, open, passionate and curious.

The executive transition team, chaired by the chairperson of the human resources committee of AMSHeR and vice chairperson has unanimously recommended Humphrey to the Board to be our next Executive Director and the Board has unanimously approved the recommendation. We believe he will make an excellent leader for AMSHeR as a visionary, brave leader, and we believe he has the skills that AMSHeR needs in its next transformative journey.

Humphrey is going to spend the next few weeks in learning and listening, and will take over the Executive Director position on December 1, 2017. His first priority will be to immerse himself in deepening his understanding of the AMSHeR coalition.

I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the board of directors to pass on our heartfelt thanks to Berry Didier Nibogora, AMSHeR’s law and human rights advocacy manager for doing a stellar job at overseeing the secretariat during the period of transition following the departure of Kene Esom, AMSHeR’s previous Executive Director and current strategic initiatives advisor to the board. The transition would not have been possible without the entire secretariat support, to all staff, most appreciated.

The AMSHeR board is delighted to have reached such a successful outcome in its search for a new Executive Director and I ask you to join me in extending a warm welcome to Humphrey and AMSHeR’s new Executive Director.

Media Contact
Juliet Mphande
+2711 242 6800

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Big data and HIV: From Big Brother to Big Hope

However, there are also great hopes invested in the use of big data for social good. Information about everyday patterns of human behaviour can help us construct algorithms to help prioritise interventions in areas such as education, health or sanitation.

Indeed, big data is central to the so-called data revolution for the Sustainable Development Goals. This revolution is about improving the data that’s used for designing, monitoring and evaluating development interventions, and for holding decision-makers to account.

It’s also about preserving privacy, developing better tools to measure impact, and disaggregate information to ensure that international development leaves no-one behind.

A training session for young sex workers in Myanmar. ©Arkar Kyaw 2016/ International HIV/AIDS Alliance 

Big data and the global HIV response

The global HIV response has for decades been using large quantities of data to build economic and epidemiological models to decide smart HIV investments.

In epidemiology, statistical data is used to establish the relationships between individual patterns of behaviour and the spread of disease. Mathematical modelling, also relying on statistical data, is used to simulate the relationship between various possible investment scenarios and an optimum combination of HIV prevention and treatment interventions. This in turn is used as a basis to determine the nature of global HIV investments.

The tyranny of experts

As the production of big data escalates, its potential applications expand. For example, the analysis of hundreds of thousands online postings or web searches about HIV prevention and testing can help identify who to offer HIV self-testing kits or PrEP.

But as Bruno Lepri and others point out, this ’modelisation’ could fall into the so-called ‘tyranny of experts’. This is when only a few experts have access to data and are able to interpret, or at worst, manipulate it. Indeed, the use of modelling for decision-making in the HIV response often lacks transparency and accountability about how models are designed and how the information is stored and treated.

With big data, there is the additional risk of a ‘tyranny of data’. If the data is biased or incomplete, it can perpetuate, and even justify, prevailing patterns of exclusion and discrimination of key populations.

Inaccurate data (e.g. wrong size estimates for key populations) and the absence of critical social and political variables (such as the impact of human rights interventions) in HIV modelling can have disastrous consequences. It can distort priorities and lead to wrong or inadequate responses. This risk is particularly high among key populations in countries where they are stigmatised, excluded and persecuted.

Access to HIV services still lacking

The wider use of big data in the HIV response takes place in a context of continuing lack of access to HIV prevention and treatment services in a growing number of countries. This impending crisis is a breeding ground for social mobilisation and campaigning.

This context is similar to the denial of free AIDS treatment in the 1990s. At that time, people living with HIV had to learn medicine and drug regime development at record speed in order to challenge the tyranny of experts, which was denying them access to experimental, but potentially life-saving drugs.

HIV campaigners took to the streets, to mass media and to courtrooms. They created the biggest global health movement in history.

The new HIV activism

Today’s HIV activism will need to adapt to the ways of the 21st century.

This new mobilisation, we believe, will be among millennials, young people who are the population most affected by HIV at present.

This time, we think, the HIV revolution will rise from the South, not the North. It will be unstructured and decentralised. It will be online, and will happen through mobile technologies.

The new HIV activism will need to break the tyranny of data. We will need to understand big data better; to benefit from it, but also to challenge data management methods that suggest discriminatory investments or breach the privacy, security or other rights of people affected by HIV.

We will also need to break the tyranny of experts. We will need to reclaim our full and meaningful involvement in the processes that design and use big data to inform HIV policies and investment decisions.

Big data challenges and opportunities are for us both great and inevitable.

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