Delivering as One, a UN in China conversation presented by Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee: Episode 5 with Zhou Kai
Delivering as One is a podcast series that brings you the stories behind the representatives of the UN family in China.
In the fifth episode of the Delivering as One podcast, UN Resident Coordinator in China Siddharth Chatterjee sits down with Zhou Kai, Acting Country Director in China for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
For the first time in the Delivering as One series, the Resident Coordinator speaks to a Chinese national, with Dr. Zhou Kai, a descendant of the Manchu ethnic group, born and raised in the hutongs of Beijing. Dr. Zhou carries fond memories of her early life, in the weekends spent in the green spaces adjacent to the Forbidden City, and in the influence of both of her parents, with academic and professional backgrounds in health and medicine.
Rather like her parents, Dr. Zhou Kai chose to enrol at Beijing Medical University (now known as Peking University Health Science Center), but instead majoring in public health, motivated by her interest in health and well-being as a population-wide phenomenon. Following graduation, Dr. Zhou Kai entered the field of child and adolescent health, with a focus on growth and development, mental, and reproductive health. Her involvement during this time in the development and introduction of life-skills education at schools in collaboration with the World Health Organization still leaves her with an immense sense of pride, with this preventative care approach for adolescent health now widely adopted in China.
Her career path later shifted, from adolescent health to HIV/AIDS, as a partial consequence of China’s introduction of its first Five-Year Action Plan on HIV/AIDS Prevention (2001-2005). She first worked as a programme manager of the China Comprehensive International Programme of Research on AIDS, then she joined UNAIDS, part of the UN family in China in 2006 that coordinates the joint efforts of UNAIDS co-sponsor agencies to support the AIDS response in China.
“I witnessed how China has grown from a recipient country of international aid and technical expertise to become one of the leaders in South-South Cooperation on the global AIDS response.”
In this episode, Dr. Zhou Kai discusses the year that has passed, with 2021 marking both the 40th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS and the 25th anniversary of UNAIDS. She describes the progress made since these milestones while acknowledging the significant work that remains towards the goal of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero discrimination, in ending AIDS by 2030.
During the conversation, she explains the priorities of UNAIDS China, in promoting coordination, strategic information, community engagement, advocacy, and South-South Cooperation. She describes the relationships of UNAIDS with key partners, from the government to civil society and goodwill ambassadors, and how UNAIDS works to protect vulnerable populations, in particular people living with and affected by HIV, who are the collaboration partners as well. She cites their previous work to reflect the importance of community resilience that ensured people living with HIV had access to life-saving retroviral medication during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Together with the Resident Coordinator, the two discuss remaining challenges in the years ahead, including the need to maintain China’s whole-of-society approach to HIV prevention, sharing these important lessons with the Global South, eliminating remaining stigmas and discrimination, and UNAIDS’s work in China to leave no one behind and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, as part of the UN system in China.
Dr. Zhou Kai joined UNAIDS China Office in 2006. She has rich experience in supporting government, civil society, and international collaboration partners to participate in AIDS response in China. She provides policy advice and technical support on the development and implementation of national AIDS strategies; promotes engagement of community-based organizations; advocates to address stigma and discrimination toward people living with and affected by HIV, and coordinates UN agencies to jointly support China’s AIDS response.
Dr. Zhou Kai manages South-South Cooperation programmes to assist China in positioning HIV in its global health diplomacy platforms such as the FOCAC, BRICS and in the wider context of UHC. She also uses her expertise to contribute to China-Africa health collaboration by promoting access to HIV-related medicines and health commodities in Africa.
Before joining UNAIDS, she worked for the National Center of AIDS and STD Prevention and Control, coordinated China’s first and the biggest multi-centre research programme on HIV supported by NIH-US. Before that, she was the associate professor of the Institute of Child and Adolescent Health of Peking University. She holds a medical doctor degree from Peking University of China and received fellowship training on epidemiology at University of California, Los Angeles of USA.
Siddharth Chatterjee took office as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China on 16 January 2021 and is the designated representative of - and reports to - the UN Secretary-General. He presented his letter of credence to the President of China on 14 April 2021.
Mr. Chatterjee has more than 25 years of experience in international cooperation, sustainable development, humanitarian coordination and peace and security in the United Nations and the Red Cross movement. He has served in many fragile and war-torn countries all over the world.
A 3 times TEDx speaker, he is a regular opinion contributor on humanitarian and development issues for a range of journals which includes Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, Reuters, Huffington Post, Forbes, CNN, Al Jazeera, the Guardian and of late has also published in mainstream Chinese journals.
Mr. Chatterjee holds a master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University in the United States of America.