Professor Helen Rees is Executive Director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where she is also a personal professor on Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She is an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the Faculty of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, an Honorary Fellow at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge University, and an alumnae of Harvard Business School.
Prof Rees is internationally renowned for her policy and research work in vaccines, reproductive health and HIV. She has chaired many national and international committees and is currently Chair of the South African Medicines Control Council, Chair of the World Health Organization’s African Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group, Chair of WHO’s IHR Emergency Review Committee on Polio and a member of WHO’s IHR Yellow Fever Emergency Committee, Co- Chair of WHO’s Ebola Vaccine Working Group, Chair of WHO’s STI Vaccine Roadmap Committee and Chair of the WHO Committee Developing Regulations to Cover Clinical Trials and Research During Emergencies, having previously chaired the WHO committee on the Use of Vaccines in Humanitarian Emergencies. In recognition of her reputation in the African region Prof Rees has recently chaired the 3rd National Health Summit for the Republic of South Sudan at the request of the South Sudanese Government and WHO, which produced the National Health Policy and the National Health Strategic Plan from 2016-2026. She is the Co-Chair of the South African National Health Data Advisory and Coordination Committee. She is a member of South Africa’s National Advisory Group on Immunization and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases.
She serves on the Boards of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) and of AVAC.
She has received many national and international awards for her contribution to African health and global health including being made an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, receiving the Order of the Baobab which is one of the South Africa’s highest honours, as well as Lifetime and Gold awards for her distinguished contribution to science, global health and women’s health by the South African Academy of Science, the South African Medical Association, the South African Department of Science and Technology, BHP Billetin and the Oppenheimer Foundation.