Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations BMJ Confidential

Kent Buse: A mass of contradictions

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 14 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1015
Duncan Smith


Kent Buse, 53, serves as senior adviser to the executive director of UNAIDS. Educated at the University of Toronto, he completed a PhD at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He has taught at Yale University and worked in dozens of countries for a wide range of organisations concerned with health and development. He is coauthor of Making Health Policy, a guide to policy making in public health. He believes that the AIDS movement has wider lessons for non-communicable diseases. Community organising, human rights, and politics were at the core of the response to AIDS, he argues, and should drive the response to non-communicable diseases.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be an architect designing buildings with fluid forms, of the sort that Zaha Hadid (“the queen of the curve”) was to masterfully realise. Instead I got into designing less elegant systems to govern health.

What was your best career move?

Many. From drummer in an unknown Swedish rock band to working in communities in Nigeria, Thailand, and Vietnam in my early 20s. Later, I enjoyed the intellectual freedom of academia and now consider it a privilege to …

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