Parmindar Singh Lotay
Parmindar Singh Lotay is the second child of Sardar Harnam Singh ji Lotay and Mata Balwant Kaur ji Lotay. He studied Biochemistry at Makerere University, Kampala, and worked with Professor Tom Boyd on sickle cell anemia and iso-electric focusing of aspartate amino transaminase on polyacrylamide gel. He was the Chairman of Sikh Students Body that celebrated the 500th birthday of Guru Nanak Devji, where renowned Sikh writer Khushwant Singh addressed the gathering at the main hall. Khushwant Singh was flown out for the celebrations courtesy of the renowned Ugandan Sikh industrialist and philanthropist Sardar Inder Singh Gill. This event brought together the chairmen of all Sikh Gurdwaras in Uganda, the chairmen of Ramgarhia Sports Club and Simba Union.
After the Asian expulsion from Uganda, Parmindar joined the handful of Sikhs left in Uganda to look after the Gurdwaras. He eventually left Uganda to work with Chico State University in California in the United States.
He later returned to Kenya and worked with the pharmaceutical industry. He was the Secretary General of the 11th Conference of the International Diabetes Federation held in Nairobi in 1982. He worked with the late Dr. Eric Mngola, the late Dr. Awan and Dr. Ashok Shah on diabetic retinopathy. At the time he was also the Vice President of the Kenya Association for Prevention of Tuberculosis. When he was the regional director of Glaxo Wellcome, he worked with the organizing committee of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASSA), held in Kampala in 1985. He organized two satellite meetings at this conference. He has attended many ICASSA meetings and International AIDS Society Conferences. He has published several papers on HIV/AIDS, ART, Diabetes and Reproductive Health.
In 1996, when the Joint United Nations International Programme on HIV & AIDS UNAIDS drug access initiative, was set up as a pilot project on access to anti-retroviral therapy, Parmindar served as a director of the program in Uganda. At the time of the Glaxo Wellcome and Smith Kline Beacham merger to form GlaxoSmithKline he chose to take an early retirement and set up a not-for-profit company, Pharm Access Africa Limited (PAAL) to increase access to healthcare for peoples of Africa. At the same time, he was retained as a consultant on access to anti-retrovirals in East and Central Africa. He chaired the drug sub-committee at the National AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Program (NASCP) in Kenya. During this period he also consulted for Family Health International (Now FHI360) on rapid assessment of laboratories and pharmacies. He trained various cadres of health professionals on anti-retroviral therapy in Kenya, Nigeria and Mozambique. Preferential prices for anti-retrovirals were negotiated with R & D based multinational pharmaceutical companies to see the price of branded ARVs come to around 10 per cent of global prices. Currently, more than 50 percent of HIV positive people are on treatment and care.
FHI360 and PAAL partnered in an ambitious project to bring high quality, low cost contraceptive implants under the brand name, Zarin to 12 countries in Africa. This project, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Fund (BMGF) saw a 70% price reduction in other implants. In another BMGF funded project, PAAL partnered with three organizations in a JHPIEGO led Kenya Urban Reproductive Health Initiative. PAAL, staffed by young Kenyans, also partnered with the UNFPA to track reproductive health commodities in three counties using an SMS –web based interface.
Parmindar is member of the Rotary Club of Nairobi, the oldest Rotary Club in Africa, south of Sahara and north of Limpopo. He has the distinction of being the only person who has been the chairman of the club twice. He has been the chairman of Kenya Polio Plus Program for many years. He was presented Rotary International’s regional award for Polio Free world in 2005/6. He is a Rotary Foundation’s cadre of international advisors for HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health and volunteers his time to assess funding applications from Rotary Foundation.
Parmindar was the founding Chairman of Kenya Inter Religious AIDS Consortium, an umbrella body of faith based organizations. He is the President and CEO of Pharm Access Africa Limited; Chairman, Board of Directors, Medical Access Uganda Limited; President, Centrale Humanitaire Medico Pharmaceutique; Immediate Past Chairman, Grass Roots Alliance on Community Education; Advisor, The Open University, U. K. and African Centre for Technology Studies on their DFID funded study on Industrial Productivity, Health Sector Performance and Policy Synergies for Inclusive Growth: A Study in Tanzania and Kenya; Technical Advisor, Global Health Action and; Director of Cosmos Limited, a Kenyan Pharmaceutical Company. Parmindar is also member of the oversight board of National Organization of Peer Educators (NOPE), Kenya.
Parmindar is married to Renate Lotay, who is a well-known social worker, human rights activist and teacher in her own right, and they have a son, Paul Singh Lotay, who is a Medical Anthropologist working in Uganda.