The Irish Aid Annual Professor Father Michael Kelly Lecture – 2020

November 10, 2020

The Irish Aid Annual Professor Father Michael Kelly Lecture – 2020 was held online under the theme: Solidarity in the Face of HIV at a Time of Global Crisis

Date: December 1, 2020
Time: 12:00 to 14:00 Irish Time (GMT)

Video Presentations from Speakers are Available on the official Father Michael Kelly Website under the 2020 theme: Solidarity in the Face of HIV and AIDS at a Time of Global Crisis

Download Programme View Event Recording Speaker Bios

The live web event featured a keynote speech from Professor  Father Michael Kelly himself which was delivered as a video address. Other speakers included The Minister of Health for Ethiopia, Dr. Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin and Chief of Staff, at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Marijke Wijnroks.  A welcome by the Irish Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, TD set the tone for the event. The full list of speakers and panelists can be viewed on the page below.

This year’s event also featured a collaboration of youth choirs with the launch of an original music video by Africaid Zvandiri Youth Choir in Zimbabwe and the SpeakUp SingOut SUSO Youth Choir in County Kildare. 

As in previous years, the Irish Global Health Network will facilitate Irish Aid’s Annual Father Michael Kelly HIV and AIDS Lecture. For more information about Professor Father Michael Kelly, please visit this dedicated website.

For over 50 years, Tullamore-born Professor Father Michael J. Kelly has worked tirelessly in the fight against HIV/AIDS in his naturalised country of Zambia, and internationally, spreading the message of strength, dignity, and hope for those affected and at risk.

Much has been learned about the response to the COVID-19 pandemic from years of experience in dealing with HIV and AIDS, both in terms of community engagement and leadership. 

With higher risks of infection for people in certain groups, including in healthcare settings and among vulnerable groups, learnings about HIV stigma, testing, treatment and prevention programmes can all be leveraged as we join in solidarity in the face of this global pandemic. 

It is important to remember that HIV and AIDS has not gone away. And more than ever, we must call on all communities to redouble efforts so that the progress thus far achieved is not eroded. An important learning of the HIV response is that it a true global health challenge, that like COVID-19 does not recognise borders.  

We will hear from speakers in Ethiopia, South Africa, Ireland and Switzerland – speakers this year will come from a variety of backgrounds, but all have one goal in common – solidarity in the face of HIV in their communities. 

Moderated by: Dil Wickremasinghe, Journalist, Podcaster & Activist – Ireland

Dil is a social entrepreneur and co-founded the mental health support service Insight Matters with her wife Anne Marie Toole.  Alongside her work as a mental health advocate she was a dedicated Social Justice and Mental Health broadcaster and journalist for a decade where she presented the award winning weekly programme “Global Village” on Newstalk 106-108. After her departure from Newstalk in 2017 she began her own weekly podcast “Sparking Change with Dil” on the Head Stuff Podcast Network. 

  • Welcome by the  Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, TD – Ireland

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

  • Professor Fr Michael Kelly, HIV and AIDS Advocate – Zambia

Father Michael is a renowned speaker and advocate on HIV and AIDS. He has authored several books and worked tirelessly to educate and promote safe behaviour among youth and those most at risk in Zambia, and across Africa.

  • Dr. Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, Minister of Health – Ethiopia.

Dr Lia is an obstetrician and gynecologist with extensive experience in healthcare leadership and hospital administration. She has worked in government, NGOs, academia and leading grant-funded programs. 

  • Saidy Brown, HIVictor – South Africa

Saidy is a 24 year-old young lady born with HIV. She has been a strong advocate for HIV and used her status to educate other people via social media. She works with various NGOs, such as Y+ South Africa and Network for Young People Living with HIV in South Africa. 


  • Marijke Wijnroks,  Chief of Staff, Office of the Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – Switzerland

Marijke Wijnroks became Chief of Staff at the Global Fund in 2013. From June 2017 through February 2018, she served as Interim Executive Director. Her distinguished career includes more than 30 years of experience in global health and development, serving in government, at the United Nations and in civil society, and working in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

  • Ruairí de Búrca, Director General, Irish Aid at Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Ireland 

Ruairí  has led the Division charged with managing the Irish Aid development cooperation programme since 2017.  In this capacity, he advises on the most effective and efficient policy options for the delivery of Ireland’s international development goals, including humanitarian aid.  He represents Irish positions on development matters in international fora, including the EU and UN. 

He leads the team responsible for the timely and prudential delivery of Ireland’s development cooperation.  He also leads on Ireland’s bilateral relationship with Africa, including political and economic relations with the countries of that continent


Father Michael is a renowned speaker and advocate on HIV and AIDS, and has worked tirelessly to educate and promote safe behaviour among youth and those most at risk in Zambia, throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and much further afield. He recently received the Order of Distinguished Service Award from President Lungu of Zambia, in recognition of his contributions to the promotion of education, social justice and HIV/AIDs.



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