Remembering Nadia Fuleihan

19 Jun 2012

I’ve been working on Global Fund issues since the Fund started ten years ago. A key factor that has kept me going is the stimulus I get from the remarkable people I meet in the course of my work.

Recently, however, I received some very sad news about one of those people. Nadia Fuleihan was killed in a car accident on 5 June in South Africa.

Nadia was special. She was someone who, through commitment and forcefulness, single-handedly made the world a better place. 

Nadia was a Lebanese national who worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Global Fund issues since shortly after the Fund was established. UNDP is the principal recipient for many Global Fund grants, and Nadia was involved in almost all aspects of these grants – negotiating agreements, providing technical support, networking at Global Fund Board meetings, partnering with others around policy issues, pushing for a stronger focus on issues of gender and human rights, and more. This breadth of responsibilities over time gave Nadia an impressive network and an unparalleled insight into Global Fund operations and policy.

Nadia was widely respected and loved. According to Jeff O’Malley, Director of the HIV/AIDS Group at UNDP, this was not because of the scope of her responsibilities and her network. It was because of “Nadia's immense commitment to the causes of better health, human rights and empowerment of the marginalized,” O’Malley told me. “These shone through constantly. Nadia had a remarkable ability to connect with people on a human level and as friends, while working together and even while working on opposite sides of any given issue.”

Nadia had a big, booming voice and a personality to match. Her cheerful face would light up a room, and her laugh was unique and frequent. When I think of her, I smile.

Bernard Rivers ( is Executive Director of Aidspan.

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