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Thursday, September 3, 1998 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK


Aids pioneer dies in plane crash

Jonathan Mann and his wife were killed in the Swissair crash

AIDS organisations and the UN have been paying tribute to Jonathan Mann, the founding director of the World Health Organisation's global Aids programme, who died in the Swissair crash in Canada.

The UNAids programme said it had learnt of his death with "deep shock" and called Mann "a visionary global leader", "an exceptionally gifted human being, a charismatic and courageous leader and an understanding and loyal friend".

Nick Partridge, chief executive of the UK's Terrence Higgins Trust, called his death "a devastating tragedy".

Fred Eckhard of UN on the deaths
UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the loss of UN workers on the flight, including Aids workers, was "felt not only personally but professionally as well".

Mr Mann and his wife Mary-Lou Clements-Mann, a professor in the Department of International Health at John Hopkins University, USA, were among the 229 people who died on the Geneva-bound flight.

The Manns, who married in 1996, were travelling to a series of World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAids meetings on Aids.

Mrs Mann was a member of the UNAids Vaccine Advisory Committee and was conducting research on Aids vaccines.

Mr Mann had been working in the field of Aids for 18 years, starting as a researcher at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In 1984, he founded Projet SIDA in Zaire, the most comprehensive Aids research effort in Africa at the time, and in 1986 he joined the WHO to lead the global response against Aids.

He became director of WHO's global programme on Aids which later became the UNAids programme.

Human rights

[ image: Jonathan Mann: his death is described as a
Jonathan Mann: his death is described as a"devastating tragedy"
He then became director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, which was set up at Harvard School of Public Health in 1993.

It was the first international organisation of its kind to focus on the issue. In a 1993 interview with Human Rights Tribune, Mann said the idea for the organisation sprang out of perceived discrimination against people with Aids.

He said: "As the epidemic has evolved, people marginalized, discriminated and stigmatised before the arrival of HIV/Aids have increasingly borne the brunt of the epidemic.

"Therefore, to uproot the epidemic it will be necessary to deal with its root societal causes - namely a lack of respect for human rights."

Among his many accomplishments, Mann was professor of epidemiology and international health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

He was also a board member of Doctors of the World, the New York-based affiliate of Medicins du Monde.


In January, Mann took up a post as dean of the School of Public Health at Allegheny University of Health Sciences in Philadelphia, which involved promoting the role of human rights in public health.

He caused controversy earlier this year in the post when he accused the US National Institutes of Health of violating human rights by failing to act quickly on developing Aids vaccines.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, director of the World Health Organisation, led the tributes to Mann at a special service at the Geneva headquarters.

The Terrence Higgins Trust said Mann, who spoke at its 10th anniversary lecture, "understood that human rights were inextricably linked with the spread of HIV.

Nick Partridge said: "To quote from a recent article of his - 'groups whose human rights are least respected are most affected'.

"He will be a great loss to us and to the 40m people across the world infected with HIV and those who care for them."

Mr Mann leaves three children by his former wife Marie-Paule, twin daughters and a son who recently entered the Peace Corps.

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