SIAPS-Swaziland Senior Technical Advisor Khontile Kunene was selected as a winner of the Mandela Washington Fellowship of the Young African Leaders Initiative – U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiative to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Starting this month, she will complete six weeks of leadership training and mentoring at one of 20 prestigious U.S. universities and colleges before participating in a presidential summit with President Obama in Washington, D.C.
A life-long resident of Mbabane, Khontile completed her primary education at St. Mark’s Primary School and went on to obtain an International Baccalaureate Diploma from Waterford Kamhlaba United World College. While at Waterford, she received the first principal’s award for consistently outstanding cycle grades. She is the youngest in her family, is married, and has a two year old son.
Khontile attended the University of Witwatersrand where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy. She went on to receive a Master’s in Business Administration and also possesses postgraduate qualifications from South Africa and the U.S. in Medicines Regulation and Project Leadership. In her role as Senior Technical Advisor for SIAPS, she and her team work to improve access to pharmaceutical services in Swaziland. Khontile works closely with the Pharmaceutical Services Department of the Swaziland Ministry of Health to strengthen pharmaceutical sector governance and services. She brings seven years of experience as a pharmacist at the Mbabane Government Hospital to her current position, and also lectures on a part-time basis at the Southern African Nazarene University in the areas of legislation and professional ethics for Diploma in Pharmacy students.
Khontile is also part of the core committee in the Swaziland Pharmaceutical Association that is responsible for social responsibility activities. This includes a number of fund-raising activities for various charities. Additionally, she personally mentors and supports the education of children who come from disadvantaged families.
With all of her achievements to date, Khontile is most proud of her role in the establishment of the first-ever pre-service pharmacy tertiary training program in Swaziland. No easy feat, the process included conducting of a feasibility assessment, developing a curriculum, and proposing the program to the training institution’s Senate.
Khontile hopes to be a leader in the health outcome of people living with HIV/AIDS and TB by ensuring the quality regulation and use of pharmaceuticals. By helping to ensure improved quality standards in Swaziland, she dreams that no one living with critical medical conditions falls prey to false advertising which could result in the abandonment of proven treatment in favor of unsound, non-medical therapies.