Prof. Sandy Cairncross, the founding Board Chairman of Africa AHEAD since 2013, handed over the baton of Chairmanship to Prof. Richard Carter in November 2017. During the first 5 years of our existence Africa AHEAD has come from being an insignficant indigenous NGO in Zimbabwe with a good idea, to an international NGO based in the UK with what has been described as a ‘dream team’ of a Board of Trustees championing our cause.
That we were able to attract such a high calibre of well known academics is largely due to the faith Prof. Cairncross has had in the CHC Model from the moment he was first introduced to it in 2002. His intuition to accept an unknown mature student from Zimbabwe to do research through the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, on a project which was showing some surprising community response, began the journey. He then rashly agreed to be the supervisor giving Juliet Waterkeyn, the architect of the CHC model, the confidence to complete her PhD study on the cost effectiveness of Community Health Clubs in Zimbabwe.
When In 2005, he co-published a paper with her on the same subject he projected our work into the limelight internationally. The debate on the efficacy of different approaches to achieving hygiene behaviour change continued throughout his chairmanship.
In 2017, he galvanised the team and co-authored two papers with Trustees and staff of AA, in the defense of the CHC approach in the light of a challenge as a result of the RCT which took place in Rwanda. Throughout the process of setting up AA, he has been a wise Advisor and enabled the CEO of Africa AHEAD to have confidence to promote the CHC model internationally.
So it is with great regret that we bid Prof. Cairncross farewell and express our gratitude for his support. As the founding team of the 1st CEO and the 1st Chairman of AA, hand over to the 2nd generation of management, namely Anthony Waterkeyn as CEO and Prof. Richard Carter as Chairman, we take stock of how far we have come from the time when we first dreamt up the idea of being a British Registered Charity in 2012.
This change of Chairman is purely due to the requirement of our constitution and we are delighted that whilst Prof. Cairncross steps down from the Chair, has agreed to stay on the Board, as he has become the invaluable nucleus of an extraordinary Board of Trustees.