Dr. Tlou holds baccalaureate and master degrees, a PhD in Nursing Science, a Master in Nursing Education and Instruction, and a post-graduate certificates in Women’s Health and Gender Studies, all from famous universities in the USA.
After graduating from her master program in 1980, Dr. Tlou began her teaching career at the University of Botswana. In that role, she conducted research and taught courses to nursing, pre-medical and social science students on gender issues relating to HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ageing and older persons. She played a key role in the development of national nursing and medical education curricula, working to broaden the scope of health science education in Botswana.
Dr.Tlou has been involved in the HIV and AIDS response from the time the epidemic started in Botswana in 1985. At the community level, she worked to increase community awareness of HIV and AIDS using youth groups, non-governmental organizations, and grassroots women’s organizations. She was the HIV/AIDS Coordinator at the University of Botswana from 2002-2004 and facilitated the formation of the Students Against AIDS Society (SAHA). She is the founder of the Botswana chapter of the Society of Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA) in which volunteers are trained in home-based care and how to educate families about HIV prevention, human rights, and caring for people living with AIDS. For her extraordinary accomplishments, Dr. Tlou has been respected nationally and internationally as an expert in HIV and AIDS, and was promoted to be Professor, Head of the Department of Nursing, and Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery Development in Primary Health Care for Anglophone Africa, and in 2002 was appointed as the United Nations Eminent Person for Women, Girls, and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa
During 2004-2009, Dr. Sheila was a Member of Parliament and Minister of Health of the Republic of Botswana. During her term as Minister of Health, she contributed to the improvement of global health care, especially for women and girls. She led a comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support program in Botswana. Achievements of this included a roll-out of anti-retroviral therapy or ART, to near universal uptake, a striking 90%, as well as prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. As a result, there were dramatic reductions in both mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) and maternal mortality due to AIDS.As Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union Ministers of Health during 2005-2006, she provided leadership in the adoption of the SADC Malaria Eradication Program, the SADC HIV/AIDS Plan of Action, the Africa Framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health, the Africa Health Strategy, and the Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. She was also the representative of Eastern and Southern Africa on the Board of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
With her knowledgeable, intensive experiences in administration, and her leadership capability, Dr. Tlou’s current assignment is now UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. This involves providing leadership and undertaking political advocacy for quality and sustainable AIDS responses in 21 African countries. She has been instrumental in the formation of advocacy bodies such as The Pan-African HIV Positive Women’s Coalition (PAPWC) and the High Level Task Force on Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV in Africa. She also chaired the High Level Task Force on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Services for Young People in Eastern and Southern Africa. Under her regional leadership, and within five years, more than 6.3 million people living with HIV received life-saving ART, making ART coverage of over 70%. This has led to a reduction in AIDS and TB deaths, and new infections have declined dramatically. In addition, the coverage of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV has reached over 75%.
Dr. Tlou has also been an active member of the International Council of Nurses and was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador of the ICN Girl Child Education Programme and Fund. She was one of the original experts appointed by ICN to work on this Fund. Through the ICN and the Florence Nightingale International Foundation, she now leads as the voice, the policy spokesperson, and chief fundraiser to strengthen the lives of girls in sub-Saharan Africa whose mothers have died from AIDS. Many of these mothers were nurses. Through her efforts the ICN Girl Child Education Fund has supported many young African girls to further their education and many go on to college. Without her support and that of the ICN and its key stakeholders, these young women might have suffered from human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation. Through her research and advocacy efforts the science behind the method of educating the girl child is clear, and educated woman go on to advocate for other girls. As the former Minister of Health in Botswana, and now as the UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr. Tlou is able to strengthen the programme and continue to provide the services need to expand the Girl Child Education Fund throughout Africa.
Dr. Tlou has been also one of core faculty for the ICN-Burdett Global Nursing Leadership Institute since its inception in 2009 and she continues to receive the highest evaluation scores by the participants. She teaches health policy, leadership and advocacy in the Institute. Her life and career stories in the context of science and policy outcomes are inspirational.
She has also achieved academically, for Dr. Tlou has many publications on gender issues relating to HIV and AIDS, older Persons, menopause, and community-based approaches to HIV prevention. In 2001, she addressed the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women on the topic of ‘Women, the girl Child and HIV/AIDS’, and participated as a panelist in side events on Women and HIV/AIDS, organized by WHO and UNAIDS at the UN Special General Assembly on AIDS (UNGAS). Throughout her career, she has taught and provided consultancy for the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the International Council of Nurses, and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Dr. Tlou has received several outstanding national and international awards, among them the Botswana Presidential Order of Honor, the Florence Nightingale Award from the International Red Cross Society, the Emang Basadi Award for Leadership in HIV/AIDS, the Trailblazer Women Leading Change Award from the YWCA, and the Leadership in Health Award from the Global Business Council (Health).
Professor Dr. Sheila Tlou has made a great contribution to improvement of the quality of life and health of women, girls and persons with HIV and AIDS worldwide, and is an inspiration to nurses and those in humanitarian work everywhere. Therefore, the Committee of the Princess Srinagarinda Award Foundation under the Royal Patronage, has come to its final resolution to award Professor Dr. Sheila Tlou the Princess Srinagarinda Award for the year 2014.