UNITE is an independent, non-profit, global network of 149 members of parliament from 66 countries. UNITE is committed to ensuring that no life is limited by infectious disease through unified political advocacy.

Our global, non-partisan network of parliamentarians is divided into 10 Regional Chapters, each chaired by a parliamentarian leading activity in that geography. The UNITE Global Board provides governance for the organisation and consists of founder Dr Ricardo Baptista Leite, the UNITE Secretariat, and Chapter Chairs for Eastern Europe & Central Asia, Western & Central Europe, Asia & Pacific, Middle East & Northern Africa, Latin American & the Caribbean, Eastern & Southern Africa, and Western & Central Africa.

The UNITE network was founded in 2017 by Dr Ricardo Baptista Leite, under the auspices of the UNAIDS Foundation. Dr Leite is the both a member of parliament and a trained infectious disease physician.

Dr Ricardo Baptista Leite believes that active political advocacy could help bring about the end of infectious diseases by 2030 This led him to create the UNITE network, which is now co-lead with seven global board members. Since then, the network has grown to 115 members of parliament from 55 countries. 

UNITE is a not-for-profit organisation and does not accept funding from industry sources. UNITE’s funding comes from philanthropic sources and partnerships with other not-for-profit organisations such as the UNAIDS Foundation and AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The global board of UNITE consists of founder Dr Ricardo Baptiste Leite, the UNITE Secretariat and Regional Chapter Chairs. The names and titles of the Secretariat and Chapter Chairs are included below: 

Founder & President: Dr. Ricardo Baptista Leite.  

UNITE Secretariat: 

  • Amish Laxmidas – Executive Director
  • Rebeca Marques Rocha – Policy Officer
  • Ankita Nautamlal – Marketing & Communications Officer
  • Filipe Marques – Head of Finance and Operations
  • Victoria Grandsoult – Head of External Relations
  • Óscar Madureira – Legal Advisor

Regional Chapter Chairs:  

  • Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Dr Mariam Jashi 
  • Asia and Pacific: Pia Cayetano  
  • Middle East and North Africa: Ibtissame Azzaoui 
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: Gisela Scaglia 
  • Eastern and Southern Africa: Esther Passaris 
  • West and Central Africa: Akua Sena Dansua 
  • Western and Central Europe: Dr Andrew Ullmann
  • India: Dr Amar Patnaik

Infectious diseases continue to have a significant impact across the world; just in 2018, 36.9 million people globally were living with HIV. Now more than ever, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is abundantly clear that infectious diseases have a significant impact on global health. Infectious diseases have been identified by the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a major cause of morbidity and mortality and must be addressed to improve health worldwide. UNITE is an integral part of that journey through our goal of eliminating infectious diseases by 2030.   

UNITE’s network is unique as it encompasses 127 members of UNITE MP Network from 61 countries and is constantly expanding through new members who represent new geographiesOur network facilitates high-level networking and communication through a peer-to-peer approach, that is driven by our PRIME strategy. PRIME enables us to have tangible political impact through our work.  

UNITE will achieve its goals through the implementation of its PRIME strategy: 

  • PROMOTING absolute political accountability.  

  • RAISING political awareness around the human cost of infectious diseases.  

  • INVOLVING members in active political advocacy to influence global health policy.  

  • MOBILISING global political will to end infectious diseases.  

  • ENSURING strong political leadership to lead advocacy efforts globally.  

The PRIME strategy ensures that UNITE’s focus continues to remain on creating tangible impact through active political intervention. UNITE’s governance model underpins the PRIME strategy, ensuring global alignment, co-ordination and consistency across all activities. In the long term, UNITE’s aim is to establish “policy desks” with dedicated “policy officers”- each desk (and officer) will focus on disease/topic specific policy research and will facilitate the development of targeted political action plans. These action plans will be developed in close collaboration with member parliamentarians. Parliamentarians will then be responsible for the implementation of the action plan, fully supported by UNITE. A secondary ambition is to expand regionally, recruiting chairs for unrepresented geographies and regional policy officers to support activity programmes in these regions 

Success for UNITE is: 

  • Realising the elimination of infectious diseases as a global health threat through active political intervention.  

  • Achieving the broader goals of the UN SDGs. 

  • Raising awareness of infectious diseases as a public health priority amongst parliamentarians.  

  • Establishing solid relationships between parliamentarians, communities and grass-roots advocacy movements. 

  • Building long-lasting partnerships between key stakeholders. 

  • Augmenting peer to peer collaboration amongst policymakers across the world.